WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.0

THIS is a forum for questions and answers about blacksmithing and general metalworking. Ask the Guru any reasonable question and he or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you.

This is an archive of posts from January 25 - 31, 2003 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

I have seen a couple of sites online that mention a water pail forge. It uses a 220v line and one of the sites suggested experimenting with a DC arc welder for the power source. My question is: Does the power have to be DC or would an AC ARC welder work? I do realize the extreme hazards that are inherant in this project. Like the huge amperage that would be flowing, however I am interested in the "cleanness" of the forging. Another plus for me is that I don't have to buy a ton of coal at a time, or go down and fill up my 5 gallon propane tank!!
To summarize. . . Does the current have to be d.c. or can it be a.c. and . . . As far as cost of electricity goes is this even practical?
Thank you for your time I appreciate any information that you can give me.
Josh Mathis
   Joshua Mathis - Saturday, 01/25/03 01:37:15 GMT


Try a Google search using "black iron wire mesh" or "plain steel wire mesh". From among the companies you should be able to find one close to you so as to reduce the shipping costs.
   - Howard - Saturday, 01/25/03 01:45:21 GMT

Paw Paw: A w i d e jurisdiction!
   Ellen - Saturday, 01/25/03 01:49:08 GMT

Experiment with metal tape (available at hardware stores)to determine the correct amount of "choke" you need to apply to your burner. Your venturi burners will be warm but should not be too hot for this method to work. Once you have it figured out construct a permanent choking mechanism.
I am still learning to forge weld in my venturi forge. I used to be fairly competent at welding in my coal forge (sometime ago) but I am having to relearn with propane. (My welds are incomplete upon inspection when I bend them apart in the vise). Maybe its my 20+ year old flux, maybe its the lean burn in my forge or maybe I'm not holding my tongue right.
I did get some new anhydrous borax this week, at what I thought was a good price - $2.50/lb. will give it a try soon.
Good luck!
   - Howard - Saturday, 01/25/03 02:08:25 GMT


Safer that way, isn't it? (Big grin)

OK folks, time for an ole coal burner to ask some questions.

I see a lot of conversation about "tuning" venturi burners for more effecient use. Exactly WHAT are we doing, HOW are we doing it, WHY are we doing it, and just WHAT do we expect to accomplish by doing it?

I've got a two venturi burner NC Whisper Momma. How can I "tune" it so form less scale on the work?
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 01/25/03 02:17:51 GMT


The whole concept on tuning a gas forge burner, whether atmospheric or blown, is to get a neutral or slightly reducing flame. There are a handful of factors involved in achieving this, from what I have been able to determine. I'll try to relate what I have learned so far, and others who are more knowledgeable can pipe up with the appropriate corrections.

First, atmospheric burners, (venturi) tend to run too oxidizing more than any other condition. One reason is that they are less efficient at mixing the fuel and air before the burn starts, leaving unmixed, and therefore unburned, air. While only 20% or so of air is oxygen, that is enough to cause scale.

Choking down the air intake on the burner will reduce the air input, making the mixture richer, but it also decreases the flame temperature. The highest flame temperature is attained at the perfect air/fuel ratio. Too lean or too rich lowers the temp. All that nitrogen in the air, which doesn't burn, has to be heated as well. If the mixture is much too rich, it will burn slowly enough that it doesn't get fully burned until it leaves the forge and picks up some ambient air at the door of the forge. This results in the blue dragon's breath lashing out a foot from the door.

A slightly rich mixture should result in the flame at the door having a yellowish tail, a little bit of blue, and not reaching out a foot or more to singe you. Should be mostly burned INSIDE the forge, where it counts.

A lean flame not only burns up too soon, it also is pulling in air that doesn't get burned, and therefore is working to cool the forge rather than heat it. While it scales your steel unmercifully.

The ability to adjust both the fuel and air volumes is essential to getting the most out of a gas forge. If the flame is too small for the volume of space, there simply won't be enough BTU's of heat to get the temperature up high enough to be useful. Any excess flame is just wasted out the door, and may be reducing efficiency (heat) by requiring too much opening to burn, thereby losing heat by radiation and convection to the air. In other words, you can have too much burner, just as you can have too little.

Some forges have poor designs that allow the flame to exit the forge cavity before the optimum amount time has elapsed to allow a complete burn of the fuel and air mix. Propane has a burn rate a lot lower than some other things (like RDX, say) and needs some time to completely burn. That has to happen inside the forge to be of any use. That time is also put to good advantage in heating the nitrogen that doesn't burn but does suck up BTU's. That is one reason I like a hard liner. It retains heat and helps the burn, also consuming excess oxygen just as a bed of coals does in a solid fuel forge.

To tune your burners, try to set them so that there is only a reasonable "dragon's breath" coming out the door, with just a bit of blue and yellowish tails. I realize how subjective all that is, but that's the best way I can describe it. Almost any other condition has combustion occuring either outside the forge (where it does no good), or before it has a chance to heat what you want hot.

If all else fails, toss in some carbon to suck up that excess oxygen! (grin)
   vicopper - Saturday, 01/25/03 03:17:13 GMT

I recently picked up an anvil that is in pretty good shape other than beeing torch cut,I think it was more of a cutting table than an anvil. It is about 130lbs. and says made in sweden above what may be the number 11 on one side.There are als some numbers stamped on the bottom .Can you tell me anything about this anvil. Thanks,Chris
   chris williams - Saturday, 01/25/03 03:35:29 GMT

Les. I love to give brief answers on the forum, but a guy might need to write a pamphlet to answer your query. Drill and hacksaw in about 2/3 to 3/4 width. Heat, pull out, then draw tang to length. This will be your hot work. Experiment to get the right tang length with mild steel scrap. Grind the cutting bevel, but leave cutting edge at least 1/16" thick before hardening; otherwise, you'll scale the sharp edge away and you'll be in Warp City. The final cutting edge goes on after tempering. 1095 is water hardening except for thin sections, so use slower acting oil. Less chance of warping. There is the chance of bending the tangs backwards, out of the way, before quenching. That way, you'll need less length in the oil bath. After quenching [try a medium cherry red], remove scale with an abrasive. Tempering will be tricky without a treatment furnace. The temper should be hotter than 400ºF. I like the copper temper color for many wood tools: 500º-510ºF. You might think about using the OA torch, small tip, directed toward the BACK of the blade, trying to chase color towards the cutting edge. I will often have a big ol' wet cotton swab wrapped around the end of a stick. When the copper color just hits the cutting edge, quench with the swab to stop the "rainbow". Then continue on down the length of the blade. OR, put the hardened blade on a big hot block of steel and watch for temper color...a heat conduction method. After heat treating, wrap the entire blade with a big wet rag, and keep it wet. Then, heat the tangs red hot and bend them to proper position. Let them air cool. Air cooling, normalizing, will "soften" them. The wet rag keeps you from spoiling the blade temper while you're fum-diddling with the tangs.

While grinding to sharpen, don't develop enough friction heat to ruin the temper. In other words, don't run a purple or blue friction heat, or you'll soften the cutting edge.

Curved blades like bowl shaves and scorps will be a little tricker to handle, but the same principles prevail. There is going to be hot work, no matter what. The scorps will be bent hot AFTER the beveling, and then leveled hot. Twists may be a bugaboo. Use the vise and wrench to untwist a twist.

Buena Suerte. Read under FAQs, this site, "Heat Treatment".
Take my class.

   Frank Turley - Saturday, 01/25/03 03:45:29 GMT

Paw Paw:
In the for what its worth category...

From my point of view "tune" is too precise a word for my "try and see" method unless you have a burner that has an adjustable manual choke.
I try to get a "netural" flame coming from my propane burners, in situ, just as if I was using an oxy-acetylene torch to weld.
I actually look into the forge and try to adjust by sight and sound, using the same principles learned for a welding torch, by color and sound. (When lean the flame tends to have a greenish tint to it and it hisses louder.)
When you think about it whether you have a naturally aspirated forge or a postive pressure forge (blown forge) we are talking about a propane-air torch.
On my two burner forge I have one burner that burns pretty much netural while the other always burns lean unless I adjust the choke (On the surface, the burners appear to be exactly the same!)
If I remember correctly the burner configuration on your type of forge has the manifold pipe let into the venturi housing. For those I see no way to precisely adjust the burner with out going to a lot of trouble. I suggested to another that she try metal tape to close off a portion (1/4 or 1/3) of the venturi opening to reduce the amount of air flowing down the throat, its crude I know, but it may work and encourage her to experiment further.
This may work, just long enough to determine if the effort to make something more permanent would be worth the effort. If it does work you may want to experiment with something to reduce the air going down the pipes. Perhaps some fine mesh wire or some variant thereof,with a whole cut for the gas jet.
In my way of thinking there are two controllable variables here, the amount of air and gas. If the air can't be adjusted well I guess it is always possible to adjust the mixture by adjusting the size of the gas jet. I don't know what the drill size of the jet is on those burners but you may (I've never done it)consider drilling the jet out to the very next drill size....a permanent and perhaps unsatisfactory solution.
Do you know what the thread size is on those jet plugs?
Maybe there are some different size jets at your local propane or welding supply shops that you could try to adjust the flame with.
Hope this helps.
BTW, thanks for that safety lesson...
In another life time because I was the newest on board I was assigned the duty of roving safety officer on a ship in the yards...what grief I took when I tried to enforce safety rules. Simple things like ear plugs around needle guns and safety glasses around sand blasters. It was truly a thankless job but I really learned alot about how not to handle tools and equipment.
   - Howard - Saturday, 01/25/03 03:52:05 GMT

I am looking for a place to learn how to make blades in the region of Virginia,and how would i come about to this?
   Liam - Saturday, 01/25/03 04:53:30 GMT

I am looking for a place to learn how to make blades in the region of Virginia,and how would i come about to this?
   Liam - Saturday, 01/25/03 04:53:43 GMT

Electrolysis Of Brine
My previous post on this subject described an industrial electrolysis tank and set up. The whole circuit (electrolysis tank), was covered and the anode and cathode sections are separated by a semi-permiable membrane that allows the solution to pass through and prevents the gases from transiting the membrane. The hydrogen and chlorine are gasses taken off separately, from opposite compartments of the tank and carefully kept separate.
Therefor the Hydrogen and chlorine gasses are collected and kept separate.
Mr. DeGroff is correct, in his description, of a crude set-up. Such a system, probably,would not generate enough HCl reaction to explode but I do not recommend it, and stongly urge anyone "playing" with such a set-up to wear eye protection and rubber gloves etc. etc.
The reaction of hydrogen and chlorine gasses that produces Hydrogen chloride, produces a LOT of energy (read heat).
Large volumes of reactants could generate enough to cause an explosion. That is why why they are kept separate.
Much of the hydrogen is subsequently reacted with chlorine in a controlled manner, in appropriate reaction vessels. Hydrogen chloride dissolved in water is hydrochloric acid. Also known as muriatic acid (which is a solution of about 20% HCl in water v/v), beloved of plumbers and anyone that wants to remove many kinds of metallic oxides like iron scale.
Regards to all,
from the G.W.I.B. (i.e. Great White Ice Box).
   slag - Saturday, 01/25/03 05:06:20 GMT

Hello my name is Ian i live in the region of Culpeper Va,i have been searching all over the net for the practice of old bladesmithing or blacksmithing.As in the build of armor and swords,horseshoes and such is there any shops near this area.
   Ian - Saturday, 01/25/03 05:13:03 GMT

I have a question concerning M2 steel i'm new to blacksmithing so i don't have allt he metallurgy figured out yet just wanna know is it forgeable if so what is the max. heat as not to loose hardness and would it make good tools?
   trevor - Saturday, 01/25/03 12:07:36 GMT

M2 is indeed forgable and makes very good hot work tooling. However, when forging it, you must not get it too hot as it will crumble. Also, if you heat to forging temps, you will loose any hardness the material had. M2 is air hardening, so as it cools from forging, it will harden. DO NOT WATER OR OIL QUENCH THIS STEEL. When you are done forging, let it cool on a bench. I don't know the exact forging temp, but yellow is a good color to start with. Also, M2 is very stiff, even at forging temps. I have forged 5/8 rounds stock but had to use and 8 lb sledge. Now I use a power hammer and only do final cleanup with the hand hammer. One other caustion-M2 gets very hard and is very prone to chipping and cracking. Make sure that the stricking end of tools is not at full hardness. In fact, on the chisel I made, I didn't even get it hot, and since I started with annealed stock, it is prone to mushroom rather than crack. Make sure to grind mushroomed ends off regularly.
   Patrick Nowak - Saturday, 01/25/03 15:35:46 GMT

When you grind the mushroom off of struck tools, it's a very good idea to "crown" the end of the tools slightly. This does two things, one it keeps the force of your blow in the center of the tool, so it more effeciently uses the energy, and two it takes a bit longer before the tool mushrooms again, giving you a little more time between dressings.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 01/25/03 16:03:39 GMT

M2 Steel Trevor, Their are TWO M2 steels. One is a structural grade and not suitable for tools. The other is a High Speed Steel (HSS) like drill bits and milling cutters are made from. M2 Tool steel has very complicated heat treating that requires temperature controlers with ramping, timing and sequencing. It is not a suitable steel for the blacksmith shop.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/25/03 16:40:51 GMT

Just got in a re-print of the 1902 Sears Roebuck Catalog that I picked up on eBay. Sure wish we could sell starter sets of blacksmith equipment for their prices. The EXPENSIVE set was $25.00!
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 01/25/03 17:51:12 GMT

Hi there,my name is Chris
I'm from Italy and I'd be very glad if you could help me in my research.it's since a long I'm looking for the tale about a blacksmith and his forging process.
well for what I can remember after having made a sword he started to file it into dust and feeding it to domestic fowl!!!! so that it became thoroughly mixed with their droppings. Maybe this tale was just missunderstandings of the use of animal dung in forging techniques, in introducing trace elements of nitrates into the blade...I don't know... but I'd like to know all the story of it
My question is...if you've ever heard about this tale..and where I can find it?...

Thanks and sorry for my english
   chris - Saturday, 01/25/03 18:16:06 GMT

Ian in Virginia: We have numerous blacksmithing organizations in Virginia and Mayland that are very active. There are many small blacksmith shops in the region. Your best bet is to attend a few meetings and talk to the smiths.

CVBG Central Virginia Blacksmiths Guild
BGoP Blacksmiths Guild of the Potomac
NNBANorthern Neck Blacksmiths Association
MASA Mid-Atlantic Smiths

TWBG Tidewater Blacksmiths Guild

For more chapters see ABANA-Chapter.com

The next big Virginia Event is the Dan Boone HammerFest on February 22. Contact CVBG for details. I'll be with Bruce Blackistone doing a Boy Scout Merit Badge Jamboree that weekend. After that is BGoP's Spring Fling in April. And all the groups have monthly meetings. You can go to blacksmithing meets in Virginia almost every weekend if you want.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/25/03 18:21:37 GMT

Hi there,my name is Chris
I'm from Italy and I'd be very glad if you could help me in my research.it's since a long I'm looking for the tale about a blacksmith and his forging process.
well for what I can remember after having made a sword he started to file it into dust and feeding it to domestic fowl!!!! so that it became thoroughly mixed with their droppings. Maybe this tale was just missunderstandings of the use of animal dung in forging techniques, in introducing trace elements of nitrates into the blade...I don't know... but I'd like to know all the story of it
My question is...if you've ever heard about this tale..and where I can find it?...

Thanks and sorry for my english
   chris - Saturday, 01/25/03 18:36:58 GMT

Italian Smithing Story: Chris, Your English is very good. No appologies needed.

I have never heard this story or any legend similar to it. Nitrates were well known for use in making gun powder but nitrating for surface hardening is a modern process. I suspect your story has more primitive or symbolic meanings but it is hard to tell without the whole story.

Keep asking. Manybe it is a story Italian smiths know.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/25/03 18:46:17 GMT

1902 Sears Catalog:

Paw Paw, you need to remember that we were on the gold standard at that time.

A 20 dollar gold piece contained about an ounce of pure gold in it and a 5 dollar gold piece had a quarter ounce.

Gold prices have been down low until recently, but are returning to their proper levels. Even at the current gold price, thats about $440 worth of equipment.

Also, it took longer to earn that much money back then. It all averages out close to modern day prices when all is said and done.
   - taylor - Saturday, 01/25/03 18:48:29 GMT

i need a metal/alloy that can withstand blunt impacts and pionted impacts plus be resistant to cutting devices eg chain saw. it also needs to be quite (i use the term loosly) light, and inexpensive, whats your suggestion
   - Oli - Saturday, 01/25/03 19:11:53 GMT


I'm aware of all that, but I'd still like to be able to sell starter kits, even for 10 times what Sears charged then.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 01/25/03 19:19:59 GMT

Chainsaw Resistance? Oli, that is a peculiar spec. To be scratch resistant to a chainsaw blade you will need hardened tool steel. But what do you mean by "resistant". Almost any metal will wreck a chainsaw running a wood cutting speeds.

Since my voodoo ball says you are building a battle-bot I would say aluminium plate of any kind. For low speed saw resistance I would recommend a thin layer of stainless steel bonded to a thick aluminium plate. Say .015 or .024 stainless epoxied to 3/16" 2024-T6 aircraft aluminium plate. The stainless is not as hard as tool steel but it is abrasion resistant and will dull any metal cutting tool not applied at high pressure. Most stainless sheet is work hardened making it pretty tough. Aluminium is always the best choice for light weight and strength. Together the two will be very durable.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/25/03 20:53:55 GMT

Chris, Guru:

As an apprentice Diemaker, I served under many German Journeymen who learned their trade in The Old Country. On many occasions the topic of heat-treating steel packed in chicken excrement was brought up. I assume is smelled REALLY bad, as most of the "old" tales they told me were to reinforce the opinion that "my apprenticeship was SOOOO much easier than theirs".

The use of chicken excrement was to (as I was told) increase carbon content and surface hardness.

I don't know if any of this is true, or just old European tales being retold from generation to generation.

Just my $0.02 (USD) worth ;-)
   Zero - Saturday, 01/25/03 21:10:12 GMT

Zero, Are you SURE that they weren't just feeding you a dose of chicken "litter"?
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 01/25/03 21:18:35 GMT

Joshua: HUH? Is this a DIY electric furnace? An induction furnace? If it is an electric furnace, it will heat steel very slowly, during which time it will scale up abundantly. If it is an induction furnace, forget it. You could never achieve efficient coil coupling and load matching without sophisticated electronics. If you want a clean weld, buy a MIG gun or a small stick welder....or learn how to do a forge weld correctly (I know not where of I speak on that last comment).
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 01/25/03 23:44:59 GMT


No, that's not what Joshua is talking about. He's talking about a LaGrange - (Hoho?) water pail forge. It actually was done, Jock has the story somewhere here on Anvilfire.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 01/26/03 00:58:58 GMT


On the 21st Century page, scroll down to the Lagrange Hoho water pail forge. 1800's.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 01/26/03 01:04:10 GMT


I am a beginner blacksmith, and I have been using the pritchel holes in my london pattern anvil to upset rods/head nails. I read that a hardie insert can break the end of the anvil off, if its too tight.
Can this happen when you upset in a prichel hole?

   Hayes - Sunday, 01/26/03 01:22:05 GMT

Ok.........checked it out and I am impressed with the concept but totally unwilling to mix water and 220V. You do it and I'll watch.....
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 01/26/03 01:23:15 GMT

Cristiano, A student told me that he met an old smith who said he case hardened (carburized) in dog merda. The old timer said that only the white ones should be sought and picked up. Sounds like a crock of merda to me [pun intended].
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 01/26/03 04:18:15 GMT

From the Mailbox:

Often we get questions that are a little far afield. Our recent helping with the translating of a Greek legend is typical but not out of our range since it had to do with a blacksmith. However, today I had the following two questions:

From Brazil, "I need a schematic and sources of components for an infrared communications device with a range of 15 meters"

From a 7 year old, "I am homeschooled and want to do a project on making a harmonica. I am looking for information"

And I've gotten several requests for catalogs (we have none) and RFQ's on several Thermal Ceramics products we do not carry.

Its always something. .

   - guru - Sunday, 01/26/03 05:51:15 GMT

your good i have to give u that
   - Oli - Sunday, 01/26/03 10:09:05 GMT

Frank, Well said. While in college, I worked for the Water Resources Div. of the Geologic Survey. In the lab, we regularly did permiability tests on various soils, including sewer sludge. It had to be dried prior to the test and this was done in a small heated chamber. You cannot imagine how roasted sewer sludge smells. The stories of using excreta from various living things for hardening sounds either like a pervasive practical joke, or some Blacksmithing Apocrapha....like using blood to quench a sword in. Was there any mention of a particular breed of dog or any requirements that the dog be aligned with true north as he did his duty?
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 01/26/03 14:24:17 GMT

Hello, I have a customer who wants a blackened finish on cold rolled steel, but he wants to see the steel through the finish. Any ideas?
   Gary - Sunday, 01/26/03 15:00:00 GMT

I have an anvil that says made in sweden on the side ,it has what looks like the number 11 below that,I think it's about 130lbs.Can you tell Me who made it?
   chris williams - Sunday, 01/26/03 15:31:20 GMT

Chris, That's not enough informatio to answer your question. Use a scotchbrite pad and scrub down the sides of the anvil, then do a rubbing of both sides you may find more information than you can see at the present time that way.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 01/26/03 16:16:20 GMT

Black and Silver Steel Finish: Gary, The problem is keeping the bright parts from rusting. If the steel is going to be lacquered which it should be if there is going to be any exposed bright finish the the solution is EASY. Use clear lacquer AND some clear with a little black added. You could also use a dark grey OR an unber brown whick looks rather like old darkend rust. These methods are used to paint everything from faux antique furniture, custom autos and motorcycles and musical instruments such as guitars.

If the finish is to be even then start with a coat of clear. Then apply coats of the tinted lacquer over that. You may need to experiment with the finish on the steel. A coarse sanded finish produces bright reflective highlights while a flat finish may be TOO flat.

PRACTICE on a sample sheet. There is skill involved in using a spray gun and it will pay to get tips from a pro. Here are a few.

1) ALWAYS end passes OFF the work.
2) ALWAYS let of the trigger at both ends of passes (IE NEVER reverse while spraying).
3) Keep the nozzel square to the work and move in long mechanical straight movements.
4) Most instructions have you TOO FAR from the work and the results are a dusty rough surface.
5) It is almost ALWAYS too high of humidity to spray lacquer without fogging so get the special anti-fogging (slow dry) thinner. This is especialy true if you use a small compressor without a drier.

I find it almost impossible to work without two or more cans (paint tanks) for premixed tints and colors. You can do fairly detailed work with a full sized gun, you don't need an air-brush unless you are doing fine-art.

IF the finish is to fade then apply one thin coat of clear then apply the tinted mix as wanted. It is best if it takes several thin coats of translucent tint than one. It is easier to get an even fade this way. When finished give another complete coat of clear.

IF the finish is to look hand brushed or have bright highlights then there are several methods. One is to start with hot rolled plate and sand out the high lights by hand or with a light touch of a belt sander. Then apply a clear coat of lacquer. If the bright parts are too bright then the tinting method above can be used to tone it down.

The second method of producing a more antique finish is to apply clear or tinted lacquer first. THEN use overcoats of darkly tinted varnish hand applied using spray, brush or rag (wiping on/off with a rag is common). Artists oil colors can be used as tint for the varnish. The varnish will not disolve or mix with the lacquer so it can be wiped off completely. If multiple coats of varnish are needed then the first must dry several days and may need to be baked on. Multiple color tints can be applied this way but it is best to work wet in wet OR to spray later varnish coats. DO NOT apply lacquer over varnish, they are incompatible. The surface will boil and coagulate into a mess.

The other is to use stainless sheet as I mentioned above and blacken by heating to a red with a torch. Then hand polish out the highlights or work the fade with sand paper. It is a good idea to wax, oil or apply a thin coat of lacquer to blackened stainless. But for most applications including areas when steel will rust (no heavy corrosives) the blackened stainless will show no changes for decades.

Note that clear coat or any single sealing coat is not sufficient protection for iron work that will be outdoors. Outdoor ironwork needs either galvanizing or zinc powder filled paint, primer and a top coat.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/26/03 17:02:24 GMT


I am a beginner blacksmith, and I have been using the pritchel holes in my london pattern anvil to upset rods/head nails. I read that a hardie insert can break the end of the anvil off, if its too tight.
Can this happen when you upset in a prichel hole?

   Hayes - Sunday, 01/26/03 18:00:44 GMT

I stumbled across this while looking for something else. It has a bit about the legendary smith Weland doing the file-a-sword-to-powder-and-feed-to-birds thing. Link with error removed
   - Stormcrow - Sunday, 01/26/03 18:09:31 GMT

Frank: sounds like a great practical joke to play on a gringo. Cant you just see the old guy telling it over to his buddies in the cantina? "... and so I tell him 'only pick the white ones!'...." haw haw haw haw!
   adam - Sunday, 01/26/03 18:21:46 GMT

What is the conversion factor for inch pounds to foot pounds? Is it in the mass 3 program? (could not find it). I lost my table and need to torque a manifold now. Thanks Guru.

   Tone - Sunday, 01/26/03 19:21:23 GMT

Torque = FxR (cross product) so divide by 12 to go from inch pounds to foot pounds.

Torque is cheap!
   adam - Sunday, 01/26/03 19:58:26 GMT

Stormcrow: Great work! I am no longer amazed by this forum, I simply now expect any and all answers to be expediently provided... ;-) The relevant quote from the aforementioned article/paper:

"Bird excrement is actually an organic compound, rich in both nitrogen and carbon, the first of which plays a crucial role in carburization by enabling the diffusion of carbon into iron to take place at a lower temperature. It is not by chance that many analyses of Merovingian swords have yielded the evidence of nitrogen".

Perhaps my German mentors were not feeding me a line of bulls**t after all (pun intended)?

86 and sunny, 50 miles east of the Super Bowl....
   Zero - Sunday, 01/26/03 21:03:27 GMT

Chickens##t and swords: The story is from "Niebelungen", when Regin makes the sword for Sigurd. It´s quite complicated and poetic, and, for crappy migration-age bog-iron it might even do some good.
   Olle Andersson - Sunday, 01/26/03 21:18:33 GMT

Umm, wait a minute there.

Wouldn't the so called "excrement treatment" cause some problems? If memory is correct, it would contain

This would make it brittle, and the last thing anyone would want is a sword that would break on them, right?
   - taylor - Sunday, 01/26/03 21:47:52 GMT

Paw Paw, I have taken a cuped wire brush on an angle grinder to the whole anvil and found nothing more than made in sweden,which is stamped and what looks like the number 11 in raised numerals under that.There is also what looks like a serial number on the bottom.
   chris williams - Sunday, 01/26/03 22:19:18 GMT


There were two primary makers of anvils in Sweden. Kolshwa and Soderfors. Of the two, Soderfors is/was the oldest. See if you can read the number, that may help. Failing that, take some pictures, and send them to me, I'll see what I can figure out for you.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 01/26/03 22:34:19 GMT

Broken Link: Stormcrow, I got a not-found error from goggle using two prowsers so I removed your link. It also screwed up the page width.

NOTE TO ALL: Please do not post long search engine paths. Post only actual document paths.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/26/03 23:06:22 GMT

Swedish Anvils None of the Kohlswa anvils I've had were marked for weight but they all were marked:


Missing Part of the Chicken and the Sword Story You guys are forgetting that the fellow said that the the sword was ground to powder and FED to the chickens. . so THEN what. . nano-swords?
   - guru - Sunday, 01/26/03 23:10:21 GMT

Guru, for the harmonica I might recommend "Making Wood Folk Instruments" by Dennis Waring. While it doesn't have a harmonica like the small mostly metal instrument he likely has in mind, it may have something he'd find interesting. Or maybe not. My interests in instruments ran more to strings.

For the IR comm gadget, Model Railroader magazine once published a neat article... I'd really suggest his research run more to websites of semi houses like Maxim, TI, or National. They might have an evaluation board for a chipset that would be just the ticket. Guys frequently show me articles from hobby electronics sites that show "complete can't-miss plans" for almost anything. I don't know where any of those sites are, never go there. But I feel fairly confident that no cookbook IR comm device is going to just pop up doing what he wants; even if he can find a site that will sell him a PC board, it'll take some knowing-what-you're -doing troubleshooting to really make it work right. The eval boards are the best bet, at least the manufacturer has a vested interest in making some that work...

Jameco has some IR kits that are really aimed more at control than comms. And one other, Ramsey, I think it's called, has hundreds of small kits that do all sorts of odd and not so odd functions. But there will still be some work in making them do what he'd want.

Or you may well prefer to just let the whole thing pass. ;)

   Steve A - Monday, 01/27/03 00:39:30 GMT

Guru - Sorry, I came to that from someone else's link. I just cut and pasted without looking to see what the actual address was.

Then you would gather up the droppings and forge a sword. Again. Why exactly did it need to be a sword prior to filing it into dust? :-)
   - Stormcrow - Monday, 01/27/03 01:01:53 GMT


I checked my history folder on my browser. Stormcrow's link is actually a "rich-text" (Word Document) not HTML.

Google automatically converts such to HTML, that, I assume, is the problem. The true URL for the paper is:

NOTE: This is NOT a regular web page, you will need to open this file with MS Word, Word Pad, etc...

Good reading, nonetheless -- if your a history buff, that is ;-)
   Zero - Monday, 01/27/03 01:59:14 GMT


The website listed above doesn't appear to work either.

(Proof, then post, Zero... Proof, then post, Zero...)

I grabbed the .rtf file, and saved it to my HDD. If anyone can't get it and would like it, I'll gladly email it.

Sun's down, and it's gettin' cold -- 71 on the left coast...
   Zero - Monday, 01/27/03 02:28:21 GMT

Hmm, I followed the link that I had originally used and it didn't work. Well, the part I got was that Weland the smith was the one that the swordfilingandfeedingtobirds bit is attributed to. Had a quote, don't remember the source.
   - Stormcrow - Monday, 01/27/03 03:12:12 GMT

Okay, I stumbled around a lot until I figured out how to get to that paper on swords and bird poo and the whole Weiland legend thing. Try:


It works for me on repeat test loadings. The paper is interesting, if a more than just a bit arcane and wordy.
   vicopper - Monday, 01/27/03 03:44:09 GMT

Once again, it has been incontrovertably shown that this is where you go to get the straight poop. Whether it be doggy doo or poultry poo, the Guru's guys really know their @#$! Best regards, 3dogs (none of whom were ever called into service to provide heat treating products.)
   3dogs - Monday, 01/27/03 05:40:49 GMT

Trois Chiens

Il n'y a AUCUN doute que vous êtes un homme malade!
   Paw Paw - Monday, 01/27/03 05:50:27 GMT

A bit more on forge tuning.
With higher altitudes, you need more air to burn the fuel.
With higher gas pressures & smaller air jets, you may be able to suck more air thru the venturi. If you smooth the air passages inside, you may be able to increase the speed of the air and allow more gas to be added for a bigger flame. If you have too lean ( scaling) a flame, you can profitably use up some of the extra air speed by inducing turbulence where it meets the gas for better mixing.
A venturi is greatly influenced by where in the neck the gas jet sits and where it is pointed...in? out? tilt? centered?
A cold spot on the floor under the burner is too much air or too big a flame or poor mixing.
You can tune a forge by fiddling with gas pressure, air flow and with the exhaust. It helps to keep the exhaust opening low to the forge floor, and once things are heated, as small as possible, allowing you to slowly reduce the gas pressure and still maintain heat.But too much back pressure can slow things too much.
Just to complicate things, all those dynamics change as the forge warms up.
But then, if we didn't like to play with fire, we'd be doing something else.
Everytime I hit the switch on the power wire brush, I think of you...is that a complement? Just brush it aside.
There is a joke about pres RR being such an optimist that if he was up to his neck horse droppings , he'd be enthused cause it meant that there was a pony around somewhere.
You romantics looking for a sword in chicken ship .....tisk.
   - Pete F - Monday, 01/27/03 06:24:59 GMT

Folks, I believe ol' 3dogs has jus' been called a sick puppy. Thank ya, PawPaw, that's the nicest thing that's been said to me all day! le woof
   3dogs - Monday, 01/27/03 07:40:04 GMT

Le rire!
   Paw Paw - Monday, 01/27/03 08:23:17 GMT

This thread is for the birds:

There are a few things to remember when reading these things. Language is ephemeral, and as such difficult to interpret when taken out of the epoch during which it was used. Some of those old sources were simply full of it, and that makes it tough too. This is not meant to support or denigrate what has already been said. It is entirely possible that the normal grinding and filing of a blade produces well enough dust to feed to chickens.

Link Rot:

All this hullabaloo over the url got me thinking, Maybe you guys don't know about this resource: At www.archive.org you can find an archive of the net. All of it. Plug your rotten link into their wayback machine and quite likely they can breathe life into it one more time for you.
   - michaelm - Monday, 01/27/03 12:30:58 GMT

Thanks for dissertation on hammer weight. I took your advice on Sunday and went from the 3 lb cross peen I've been using to a 1.5 lb ball peen I had laying around the shop. My hammer control went from so-so the good and my arm didn't hurt today.

I have a couple of broken jack-hammer tips, one piece would be about the right size to make a 2lb hammer out of. Does that steel make good hammers?

   Stephen G - Monday, 01/27/03 12:52:24 GMT

Back to Gary, re: black finish. How about some instant gun blue with a coat of clear urethane? Best regards, 3dogs
   3dogs - Monday, 01/27/03 15:23:34 GMT

The "Goose Dung" Steel Making Method:

I came across this story in a Northern European context while I was doing research for my article on historic swords ( http://www.anvilfire.com/21centbs/armor/index.htm ). There was some speculation as to the purpose of the process: there is the possibility that running iron filings through an avian digestive system may have removed impurities and added other elements, but there's always the chance that it was done purely for magical reasons. (Reference Theophilus' entry about using the urine of red haired boys as a quenchant. Urine works just fine as a brine quenchant, but the red haired boy is not really necessary- however, symbolically red heads and fiery natures are associated (ask Paw Paw); but the physics just aren't relevant.

In early blacksmithing some things were done for purely ritual or symbolic reasons (like when I start my fire with Palm Sunday palms for doing church hardware) some symbolic reasons had practical outcomes (the urine makes a good quenchant) and some stories were to obscure and protect trade secrets ("Oh, my blades a so good because I use a magic quenchant that only I know about- it's a secret formula from fern fed goats...").

Maybe someone wanted his sword to be fast in flight and as light as a feather, or maybe he just wanted to "goose" his foemen (joke ;-).

"Well, if it's good enough for Weland and Sigfried, start filng...".

Meanwhile; in the 21st Century:

Another cold bright day on the banks of the Potomac. Only one sale and one barter at MarsCon in Williamsburg over the weekend- didn't cover table rent. Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you. At least I got to drop in on Jerry V.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 01/27/03 15:38:02 GMT

Hammer Material Stephan, Jack hammer bit should work pretty well.
   - guru - Monday, 01/27/03 15:58:39 GMT

Is it scatological metallurgy or metallurgical scatology we're discussing here, PawPaw? Ponder THAT fer a while. Heh, heh, heh. 3dogs
   3dogs - Monday, 01/27/03 16:20:35 GMT

Archive.org Works sometime, and sometimes it doesn't. I have retrieved and recreated MOST of a web site from Archive.org but on other occasions I have been thwarted by the peculiarities of the internet. They do not always properly store and retrieve images well and complicated sites like anvilfire SORT of get archived.

In one case I was looking for a site that had been abandonded and lost its URL to a name broker. Early archive copies were non-existant or incomplete even though they supposedly had been archved. But the name broker's page was there. . .

URL redirection makes it complicated. Porn sites commonly purchase URL's that have expired and point them at their sites. IF the site had any links at all the links lead to the porn site. It has happened on our link list three times and it should be ilegal. It is also something to THINK about before abandonding a URL.
   - guru - Monday, 01/27/03 16:22:30 GMT

Fowl Puckey. Not to belabor the subject, but I think that Atli is close to solving this thing. For instance, early alchemists who worked with flora, would burn the plant matter, and the remaining ashes were considered the Essence of the plants. The ashes were "experimented with" in various ways. With that mind set, it would make sense to run the particles of steel through a bird's gut to "refine" the steel or to look for "Essential steel".
   Frank Turley - Monday, 01/27/03 16:39:55 GMT

Hi, I am very new to blacksmithing and am still assembling the basic tools and supplies. I purchased a small portable rivet forge for my 10 year old son for Christmas and we have made a number of simple items. We have also read a number of books on blacksmithing. My question is on coal. We live in the antrhacite region of Pennsylvania and from the information I found it looks as though anthracite can be used for forging, but that bituminous is a superior fuel. Anthracite is very available to me (I use it to heat our house), soft coal less so, I am still searching for a source. If I choose to use antrhacite, what unique problems might I encounter? Should I not use it at all? If it is okay to use what size(s) are best. Thanks for any information that you can provide.

   Jim Gessner - Monday, 01/27/03 16:57:26 GMT


The antracite will work. It's just a bit harder to light, and you'll need to keep some air blast going to keep it from going out.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 01/27/03 17:17:45 GMT

Hi there:)
I'm Chris,the italian boy who's questioned about the weird way to make a sword through filing it and feeding his goose:)
Thanks to everybody
at the moment I've found out that that blacksmith used to feed only geese (don't know why)and even in an Arabic manuscript(I couldn't know the name of this manuscript though) seems that even the Rus ( ancestors of the modern russian people) had the same fusion-process
You're great, thanks for all your help:) please as soon as someone of you find out anything,please write it here,I'll keep on checking the post.
Two heads are better than one...

   chris - Monday, 01/27/03 19:10:22 GMT

Apparently I didn't post this question earlier, sorry if it's a repeat. I have some fence posts to weld onto base plates. Right now there is snow on the plates. I will clear that off, and let them dry. Should I pre-heat the
plates? Also is 7 1/2' too high for a lever arm? The posts
are 2" square 1/4" wall tubing, welded onto a base plate that is imbedded in concrete. Thanks a lot!
   - Kevin C. - Monday, 01/27/03 19:43:29 GMT

Another question,
Does anybody know of any copper patinas that can be done with commonly available materials. I'm looking for a yellowish color. Any info. would be appreciated. Thanks
   - Kevin C. - Monday, 01/27/03 19:44:56 GMT

Kevin, both questions were answered. Look in last week's archive. Things move very fast here.
   - guru - Monday, 01/27/03 20:27:34 GMT

Anthricite Coal: Jim, Anthracite is hard to keep going and needs a deep fire. The typical rivet forge is designed for a shallow fire. Anthracite also burns very hat and may be a problem to parts of a rivet forge. I would poke around and find some bituminous. Pennsylvania also produces a lot of the top spft blacksmithing coal and you should not have to go far.

Flat bottom rivet forges were often marked "clay before using". The only factory information I have seen on this was a ring of clay that surrounded the grate and bridged the joint between the grate and the sheet metal pan. This made a "hump" or ducks nest to help contain the fire and direct it upwards slightly. It should help burn out due to using anthracite.

   - guru - Monday, 01/27/03 20:45:07 GMT

Hi Guru,
I'm not a metal-worker but here my question:
Refining gold, platinium et event palladium at home...
Ok I know you need poor gold and/or platinium and/or palladium aloy to begin with, but on ebay peoples are selling this. It's not suppose to use "hard chemistry" like cyanide or "strong water" (nitrous acid and friends). To my mind, gold and platinium don't care anyone except cyanide and other "destroy product", so I guess it's a thermal tricks, or mechanical tricks. Do you have an idea?

have a nice day.
By the way, I'm only curious, if you don't know, don't bother with that, it may be fraudulous claim.

Rémi Morin.
   R.Morin - Monday, 01/27/03 20:45:32 GMT

CLear outdoor finish!
I am just about finished with a set of large gate hinges which I would like to finish with a clear finish. I was thinking of using linseed oil on black heat which ads a very nice shade to the steel but would this hold up under the weather?
   Louis - Monday, 01/27/03 21:07:19 GMT


(you too, Jock) I'll absorbe the information about tuning a forge for a while. Thanks for the help!
   Paw Paw - Monday, 01/27/03 21:21:00 GMT

Poo and the artisan:

I'm not at all surprised to find that old swormakers favored esoteric uses of bird guano in the creation of their wares. As Atli remarked, this was a part of the alchemy/mystery of that craft, as it was of many others during that period. Many of the goldsmiths of the Middle Ages and Renaissance advocated the use of specific types of dung or urine for various processes. Benvenuto Cellini liked using the urine of little boys, others favored urine from old men, redheads, virgins, etc. Some of these customes persist to the current day, as well.

Thirty or so years ago, my friends Maria Martinez and her son Popovi Day gave a workshop at the university I was attending, demonstrating the making of their popular black earthenware pottery of the San Ildefonso Pueblo in Taos, New Mexico. As a friend, I was called upon to fetch the materials for the project, which consisted of dried "horse apples" and old license plates. Traditionally, dried horse dung was used for the fuel to fire the pots, with the fire being banked with dirt to maintain a reducing atmosphere. The license plates kept the dirt from touching the pots and contaminating the burnished clay surface. I managed the old license plates with a trip to Motor Vehicles, but there simply weren't enough dried horse apples available at the time, so we had to make do with dried cow pies. There was some concern that they mightn't work as well as the traditional horse by-product, but those fears proved groundless and the event was a success. I have no idea what would have happened if we used wood or charcoal, the issue never came up. I'm just thankful the project didn't call for the urine of little boys...I can only imagine the problems associated with obtaining that! (grin)

I still plan to do MY heat-treating sans poo. If you think the neighbors object to coal smoke, try smoking a load of fresh bird poo!
   vicopper - Monday, 01/27/03 21:32:35 GMT

Thanks all, the forge is clayed so at least I have that as protection, but I will be looking for a good source of "blacksmithing coal".

   Jim Gessner - Monday, 01/27/03 21:39:43 GMT

In regards to some of the "rituals", remember, the folk involved did not have the hard science to know about Nitrogen helping fix the Carbon, only that it works. Kind of makes you wonder who started the tradition, but there have been numberous cultures that regularly burned animal droppings for fires in general... cook fires, heating fires, etc. Fir instance, the nomadit steppe people of early Russia (and nomads in Mongolia today) burned horse poo. The Plains Indians burned Buffalo poo, as did early settlers.

Also, as for rituals in general, if you look close enough there are some logical reasons for the "rituals"... For rose oil, "Collect at night after the dew has set (so they don't wilt as fast as during the day) by the light of the full moon (so you can see what the heck you are doing in pre-flashlight days... much less labor intensive than having someone carry a torch and deal with the flickering light killing depth perception while working with thorn bushes {ouch})..... Seems like a senseless ritual until you remember that commonsense isn't common.

Remember, prehistoric man was electroplating (according to some experts) well before the scientific understanding of batteries existed. They probably came up with some far fetched mythical excuse for it working. After all, think of the myths for flint and firestarting.

Ok, ramble over. Sorry for the creative spelling I have undoubtably used.
   - Monica Westrom - Monday, 01/27/03 22:37:44 GMT

NOW THAT MAKES SENSE!! Thanks Jock. I sorta wondered as to why some forges called for claying... but this makes sense....
   Ralph - Monday, 01/27/03 22:39:00 GMT

Greeting Mr. Guru,

What do you think of the Chinese Striker power hammer, kinda like a Nazel clone almost. Are they worth $10k for a 140# to a60#? Have you heard whether they hold up well or not?

   armand bussell - Tuesday, 01/28/03 00:23:11 GMT

Clear Finish Louis, NO. Burnt oil finishes are amature paint concoctions. Varnishes and organic oils produce finishes that breath air and moisture. Rust is slowed but it is not stopped.

I've written on this MANY times and probably should edit a FAQ. IF you want to play alchemist fine. If you want to fine iron correctly for outdoors see our 21st Century page on corrosion.

Clear lacquer is the best clear finish but it is not really suitable for long term protection. No single coat finishing system on iron IS suitable for outdoors.

   - guru - Tuesday, 01/28/03 00:24:23 GMT

Do it yourself precious metals refining: Rémi, these are mostly fraudulent claims OR are for things like extracting base metals from organic solutions like used photo developer. If there was REALLY money in it the folks selling the plans or recipes would be getting rich doing THAT not by fraud. . .

eBay has gotten so there is a LOT of fraud on it. It takes so long to stop the crooks that they make their money and then just re-register under new names.

If it sounds too good to be true then it probably isn't true. Enough people haven't learned that simple life lesson that they believe the Nigerian scam SPAMMERS really have 28 million dollars for them. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/28/03 00:32:30 GMT

I read a story in a children's book (don't know if the story was true) about an African tribe that made iron (and its livlihood) through an extremely long and complicated process passed down from generation to generation.

Eventually they sent their brightest son off to the big city to learn metalurgy. He came back with the news that only a few of the many steps in the process actually contributed anything to making iron. Within a few weeks the tribe had made a thousand times as much iron as they'd made in their entire history to that point.

This immediately and hopelessly flooded their market and they could no longer survive as tribe.
   Mike B - Tuesday, 01/28/03 00:35:33 GMT

I am looking for a way to make large sculpture with repousse. I haven't found any 'how to' books or videos on this topic. Are there any books you've seen that explain how the Statue of Liberty, Portlandia or lifesize sculpture were/are made? I'm also looking for a book or video or instruction listing needed tools, suppliers, etc. to do some initial projects.

Thank you for your help.
   Donnally - Tuesday, 01/28/03 00:51:55 GMT

RE: Nitrogen in steel. While my company gave up on using Pelican Poop years ago, nitrogen does have a place in steel strengthening. Nitrogen and carbon atoms are nearly the same size. However, they work in different ways. Nitrogen in steel can form nitrides which precipitate in the austenite (doing almost no good) or in ferrite (doing lots of good). The nitrides act as grain boundary "anchors" and prevent grain growth at high temperatures. When they precipitate in ferrite, they act like rebar in concrete, preventing the easy movement of the atoms along slip planes. To make a metal nitride, you need a strong nitride former, like vanadium, titanium, or niobium. Aluminum works too, but goes back into solution at relatively low temperatures, making it nearly useless for grain size control. I will bet you a big orange soda that the ancients did not have access to vanadium, titanium, niobium, aluminum or even soap. Did it make the carbon work better. Not really. Did it make the carbon go into solution in the iron better? Nope. What it did was to diffuse into the iron along with carbon, nestle into the spaces between the iron atoms, and make the steel brittle as H E Double hocky sticks. And brittle is often also hard. Nitrogen in steel today is closely controlled and often limited to about 100 parts per million because, without strong nitride formers to scavange it up, free nitrogen is a powerful embrittling agent. If you got enough of it in a shallow layer on the edge of a sword, you might get it to be a bit harder, but at a sacrifice in toughness.....AND......guess what is in urine in great quantities............yup.
   Quenchcrack - Tuesday, 01/28/03 00:57:07 GMT

Power Hammer Prices: Armand, Nazel and Chambersburg are no longer making hammers. Nazel made their last hammer in the 1970's and Chambersburg went out of business last spring. An equivalent (but much superior) Chambersburg last sold for 15 to 10 times the price of Chinese hammers. Used 75 year old Nazels sell for more than 10 year old Chambersburgs (for a reason, they WERE the best and last nearly forever). If sold new today they would be more expensive than Chambersburgs by 20%.

Are the Chinese hammers worth 10K? Compared to $150K for a Chambersburg, certainly. But you DO get what you pay for. They weigh less and the quality is definitly not what you would expect from a 1950's "Made in America" machine. (back when it really MEANT something).

The cheap imports from China, Turkey and Pakistan are a gamble. Many hold up very well. Others do not run out of the crate. None will last as well as a first class quality machine. Having a reputable dealer stand behind the hammer helps. Striker has done a LOT to assure their hammers operate well AND have done things to improve the quality of the product supplied to them.

On the other hand, the West Coast buyer's group that bought a dozen hammers direct from a factory in China got stuck. I THINK, two of all the hammers delivered are operating after 3 years. The rest have never run or couldn't be kept running.

There WAS A TIME when it was the goal of every machine tool manufacturer in America to make the absolute BEST longest lasting machines that could possibly be built. Each maker tried to outdo their competitors making each new model machine heavier, more precision, more durable. The best of those machine tools built in the 1940's and 1950's are still sought after by machinists and job shops. Those OLD and often worn machines often sell for more than brand new equivalent machines (now mostly imports).

Those of us that have those machines or have used them are spoiled by that designed to LAST FOREVER quality. But the newest of those machines are nearly half a century old now. They are getting rare and hard to maintain. Nothing is made that way any more.

You can purchase a 75 year old Nazel in fair condition and easily put 10 to 30K into it to make it "like new". Or you can spend the same money you would spend on the rebuild and have a NEW machine. People do it both ways. It is a personal decision and sometimes a way of life. But if you need a machine to do the job TODAY, new is the way to go.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/28/03 01:07:39 GMT

I checked into the metal refining methods that are listed on eBay. ONE guy (the last one listed if you search for gold refining) describes the process and will sell you a 5 minute phone conversation for advice it you are having trouble. I'm currently going to contact him with reference to a small job that I might have. I'll report on any results.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 01/28/03 01:35:42 GMT

I had a History of Science and Technology proffessor in college that I believe related study that preported that there was some benifit from feeding the ore to the chickens, but of course I don't remember what the researcher who actually recreated the procedure found out specificly. But it could possibly be found in one of the journals...
   Fionnbharr - Tuesday, 01/28/03 02:31:22 GMT

Nitrogen Deposits (Off to One Side Topic):

One of my friends was excavating structures in St, Mary's City from the 1600s and 1700s. He said you could always tell where the back door and the bedroom window were due to the large nitrogen deposits. "Well," he observed, "some things haven't changed in Southern Maryland in over 300 years!"

One charactersitic of subsistance societies is that if something has a use, they'll find it. On the other claw, if something works, they are very slow to change it, because when you're living on the edge, the price of failure (and experiments always run the risk of failure as often as success) is hunger; or worse.

Monica's story about unintended consequences was great- similar things happened with Spain's New World gold and with giant coconuts- there CAN be too much of good things.

G'night; I've got to let out the dogs and contemplate nitrate solutions.

The creek's frozen and the lower (as in tidal, salt water) Potomac was one third iced over last I saw it!

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship

   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 01/28/03 02:39:49 GMT


Did the study say whether it benefitted the chickens or the swordmaker? I suppose even chickens need iron in their diets. (grin)
   vicopper - Tuesday, 01/28/03 02:44:47 GMT

Iron Nitriding /// Urine and Other Organic Wastes
Nitriding steel has numerous advantages over case hardening. In case hardening, carbon diffuses into the iron surface, and forms carbides with the steel. Iron carbide is an iron carbon compound. (FeC4) Minute iron carbide particles (cementite), in the steel solid solution, give tool steel it's ability to be hard and hold a sharp edge. The carburising process forms a strong skin on a low carbon steel.This is known as case hardening low carbon steel. The carburisation process subjects the iron to high heat in an airless environment. Carbon is added with the iron (or mild steel). Traditionally, carbon generating material was added in solid form. For example in the form of bark, hoof trimmings, grain husks etc. Today carburising often uses a carbonaceous gas or liquid for the purpose.
The material breaks down in the intense airless heat and pure carbon is produced which diffuses into the metal's surface. The longer the heat treatment, and the higher the temperature the greater the depth of penetration of the carbon. Several centuries ago iron would be heated to red heat for days or even a week. (in steel boxes). The process yielded blister steel.
Nitriding is done in a similar manner.
Iron nitride is a compound of iron and nitrogen. FeN.
Advantages over iron carbides.
Iron nitrides offer the hardest case of all surface hardening processes. Harnesses of 74 Rockwell C have been reached.
Carbon case hardened steel is about 67 Rockwell.
The nitride skin can be much thinner than case hardened steel.
Nitriding can be carried out at a much lower temperature than case hardening. About 900 - 1000 F (482 -538 C).
This is the lowest case temperature of any hardening. (using other compounds like carbon etc.)
The nitrided surface need no reheating nor heat treating steps,as carbon case hardened steel must have.
Therefor nitrided case hardened steel suffers less distortion and cracking than other case hardened metals, done with different chemicals (elements).
The thin nitrogen embrittled surface layer can be ground off to prevent chipping. It is a thin white layer that covers the thin iron nitride layer.
Nitrided steel can withstand brief periods at 1000 F. - 1100 F. (538 C. - 593 C.).
Carbon, case hardened steels will suffer, metallurgically at much lower temperatures.
Nitrided steels will withstand prolonged temperatures of 600 F. - 800 F. (316 C.- 427 C.)
Nitrided case hardened steel is more corrosion resistant than any other case hardened metals. Especially so where the white skin has not been ground off. (for example better in humid, salty, water, solvents (gasoline, oil, benzene etc.)
Steel can be carbo-nitride treated. I.e iron heated in a nitrogen and carbon airless atmosphere during heating.
The process has some disadvantages.
It is slower than carburising (carbon diffusion case hardening).
Nitriding is more expensive than carburising as the nitriding (nitrogen producing) chemical used is ammonia gas, which is more expensive than, for example, propane or butane, etc. which yields carbon for carburising.
But the case depth is more shallow.
As Mr. Quenchcranck has suggested, iron formers are often used. (i.e other metal atoms are present, in the iron or steel alloy, such as aluminium, vanadium, etc. that absorb nitrogen more quickly)). But the effects are more often encountered in deep case hardening nitriding. It is not essential to have a nitride formerfor the more common thin layer nitriding. And the usable and effective case is thinner than carburised iron.
Now, I finally get to my point, for the discussion of the last 2 days.
It is possible that iron filings that pass through the but of a bird could pick up carbon and nitrogenous compounds. The finely divided iron filings could then absorb the carbon and nitrogen if they were subjected to high heat in a reducing atmosphere. The compounds (such as nitrates and nitrites etc.), would quickly break down to elemental carbon and nitrogen, to be absorbable.
Such iron carbide and iron nitride particles could then be incorporated throughout the subsequently smelted and forged steel. (i.e. not only reside on the iron surface as is the casing in case hardening.)
If such metallurgy was, in fact, practiced, it would require very great skill. For example, in keeping the metal in an airless, reducing atmosphere at all stages of smelting and smithing.
Incidentally urine is a very concentrated source of nitrogen. The main nitrogenous compound, in urine, is urea. It's molecule is H2N-C=O-NH2.
Urea readily ferments to give off ammonia gas. The ammonia molcule is NH4.
Fermenting urine has a powerful smell. Much of it is ammonia.
Then again faeces (shit in more common usage), has a lot of phosphorous and a fair amount of sulfure locked up in it's various organic chemical constituents. P and S are not desirable in sword steel.
   slag - Tuesday, 01/28/03 06:31:05 GMT

Urea's molecule is H3N-(C=O)-NH3.
It's time to get some sleep.
   slag - Tuesday, 01/28/03 06:38:25 GMT

I am looking for the formulas to calculate the material thickness for a large stainless tank. The tank will be under full vacumn and 45psi. Formulas for flange thickness and flat ends thickness also helpfull.
Thanks guys
   - dan 'o - Tuesday, 01/28/03 07:00:52 GMT

dan 'o,

You haven't given enough information to get a definite answer. I'm no engineer, but I spent some time working on big vacuum chambers for the aerospace industry. Those chambers were big enough to stand up in and about 12 feet long. Is that what you mean by big? Those chambers were also designed to be pulled to a vacuum of .0001 millitors or better. Is that what you mean by "full vacuum"? The 45 psi...is that on the outside while the inside is evacuated, or is this also going to be a positive pressure vessel? If you have 45 psi outside the vessel and a vacuum inside, the pressure differential is three times what it would be at atmospheric pressure. Flat flange O-ring seals work well with the pressure on one side, not so well if the pressure is on the other. I do know that can change the sealing parameters.

The chambers I worked on had flanges about 6" thick, if I remember correctly, and used triple copper O-ring seals. The cylinder walls were 3" stainless plate. Most of that heavy stock was to prevent gas migration at high vacuum over extended periods of time. The shape also governs how much pressure a vessel can stand, either inside or out. A sphere can be pretty thin and still stand hard vacuum/atmospheric pressure differential. A box with flat sides has to be much beefier.

You need to give more specifics if you are to get any real answers.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 01/28/03 12:34:13 GMT

I'm with you on the older American made machinery. I use a
Cinncinnati 220v grinder, and a Delta band saw and drill press. All of these were in use in an orthopedic brace shop prior to 1950 and have been used contiuously since then.
   Brian C - Tuesday, 01/28/03 13:21:55 GMT

Vacuume Pressure: Dan 'O MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK has formulas for flat flanges (I've used them) and probably for tanks. ASTM Pressure vessel rules apply. Stainles must be derated when compared to steel. But VIcopper's memory is bad. . . Atmospheric pressure is a little less than 15 PSI so that is the pressure at 100% vaccumme at sea level.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/28/03 14:33:49 GMT

The one tank will be a 80in tall cone 60in at the lrg end and 30in on the small. The small end will be domed so no problem but the 60in end needs to be flat and removable. The other tank is 38in in dia and 60in long. It will have one end welded flat and the other bolted flat. The internal vacumn/presure will cycle over 2hrs from 45psi to 29.95in vacumn. All outside temps and presures will be constant.
   - dan'o - Tuesday, 01/28/03 15:01:02 GMT


I must not have expressed myself clearly. I was saying that if the outside pressure is 45psi (dan 'o said something about using 45 psi) and the inside is at vacuum, THEN the differential is 3 atmospheres. Or vice versa with the pressure inside the vessel and vacuum outside. One atmosphere (STP) is 14.7 psi if I remember correctly.

With only the values dan 'o gives in his second post, there shouldn't be any big problem. Short cycle times and low relative pressures. Machinery's should have that covered just fine.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 01/28/03 16:01:30 GMT

Dear Guru<
I am a young male interested in beginning in the field of blacksmithing. What would be the best way to get started in this field.
Thanks a lot,
John Moellers
Greene, Iowa
   John Moellers - Tuesday, 01/28/03 16:45:07 GMT

if you mark your old 20 # propane bottles for industrial use only or welding use only, they will fill them with the old valves. at least in texas. about that swedish anvil, it may be a north star, if you see a star embossed into the side
   - bbb - Tuesday, 01/28/03 16:56:21 GMT

which is harder and which is cheaper, tungston or titanium
   - oli - Tuesday, 01/28/03 17:04:44 GMT

Slag, Phosphorus *was* used in early swordmaking as it did offer some hardening---particularly before they found out about heat treat hardening and were just going by alloy hardening. "The Celtic Sword" by Radomir Pleiner would probably be an interesting read for you as quite a bit of it is on the metallurgy of early iron swords.

As for trace elements in the metal---that depended on the ore body and the smelting process. This is why some regions had "better" steels, the trace elements and processes aligned nicely to make for a surperior steel (Moxon lists steels from various places and what they are good for back in 1703, and in the 1880's-1890's they are still specifing that "sweedish" steel is best for edged tools)

What's real fun are the quenching receipes given in the Boke of Natural Magicks that is excerpted in "Sources for the History of the Science of Steel"

What some folks see as rank superstition others see a subtle knowledge of the way things work---my favorite is from a tale on the settling of Iceland where the fellow throws the posts for his massive chair into the see as he approaches the coast and says he will settle where they land. Which he does *right* where the currents bring driftwood to shore in a tree poor environment. (And after sailing from Scandinavia in an open boat you can't tell me he didn't know about currents!)

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 01/28/03 17:16:43 GMT

VERY Large Repousse' : Donnally, At very large scale the methods are the same as small with a couple exceptions. One is that very large sculptures like the Statue of Liberty is that they are made of many small plates attached to an aramature. Many of the "small" plates often are mearly bent or arced and have little stretching or raising. The other difference is related to a matter of scale. The plates on the Statue of Liberty would be foil thickness if scaled down to true human size.

When working large plate the same methods are used as for small except the tools are bigger. When an artist may use a small couple pound raising hammer a team of strikers using sledges may be used on large plate. Power hammers, presses, brakes, rolls and the English Wheel are all applied to large sculpture.

Power hammers for large sculpture inlude deep throat blacksmiths forging hammers and hand held pneumatic hammers of all sizes from little one hand mechanics types, two hand contractor' hammer-drills to big jack-hammer types. For aircraft work there are special deep throat light blow hammers (see our Power Hammer Page under Pettingell Hammers. For large modern aircraft a rare hydraulic machine is used called a "Pullmax". Hammers of all types are used for both stretching and raising (upsetting).

Presses and brakes are used for bending on single axiis but presses can be fitted with special dies for boughing (dishing preliminary to raising). Curves, bends and wavy surfaces are done with the straight dies of these machines.

English Wheels are used in the aircraft, custom autobody and yacht building business. Manual (un-motorized) English Wheels are used for any plate that can be hand handled and bent with leverage and yacht builders use motorized versions for heavy (1/4") aluminium plate. These heavy versions are cutom built by the shops needing them. English Wheels are best suited to gentle compound curves but their are highly skilled individuals that can produce virtualy any shape you can imagine with and English Wheel.

When the scale becomes greater than the norm a majority of tools become custom items. Everything from hand held hammers, bucks, special anvils, power chasing bits ALL are custom made. If the shop and workers are capable of producing a mega sculpture the tool making skills AND machinery should be part of it.

Much large sheet work is done on wooden forms. Early autobodys were all formed on wood. In the case of the Statue of Liberty wood patterns were made of many detailed parts and then plaster casts made and the metal worked into the plaster cast. It depended on the particular part and plate. Some were done directly on wood, others in the plater casts. This was all hand work.

Size DOES Matter Where things get interesting is when the sculpture stops being self supporting. Brass and copper are very soft and cannot support their own weight in large thin sheets. On smaller sculptures the artist just builds a steel armature by seat of the pants enginering. But on very large sculptures a civil engineer (or two) must be called in to design the supporting steel. Then steelworkers (structural steel fabrication and errection people) build the load bearing frame. They are followed by blacksmiths who fit armature bars in a grid to attach the surface plates. And then the sculptors fit the plates to the armature.

Large projects require large shops with lots of workers and a variety of machines. Usualy the artist is the most insignificant of the workers. Once the original scale model is created many specialists take over.

Research: For books on the Statue of Liberty start at the Library of Congress (It was busy and wouldn't let me do a search but I KNOW there are books on the making of the Statue of Liberty). Then go to your local public library and ask if they are part of the interlibrary loan system. If they are they can borrow almost ANY book you can find in the LOC. Most will come from other libraries but a few MAY come from the LOC

Then try Bookfinder.com. I find it is much more convienient to own books on various subjects. There I found The Statue of Liberty Revisited: Making a Universal Symbol among hundreds of others. I also found A Manual of Practical Instruction in the The Art of Brass Repousse for Amateurs which looked like a good how-to book.

Videos. . on The Statue of Liberty many were made during its reconstruction. I have a little clip from the old children's series "Contact". They interviewed the people doing the work and showed many of the steps of the process.

Repousse' Tool Sources: Kayne and Son carries a line of hammers used in repousse' and sheet metal work. The new Pieh Tool Company will be carrying bench stakes for "normal" sized work. For the tools and technique autobody folks are using try:


I should have these guys in our links lists but I do not. Will all today. .
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/28/03 17:22:39 GMT

Harder and Cheaper: Oli, Tungsten is harder. Neither is cheap. With very few exceptions nothing is made of pure tungsten (TIG electrodes being one). Titanium is a relatively soft metal. It falls between aluminium and mild steel but is dependant on the alloy.

Cost is comparitive and usualy determined by application. These two metals are not interchangable or used for the same applications so a cost comparison is really not applicable.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/28/03 17:32:51 GMT

Wisdom of the Ancients: It isn't enough to be right - you need to know that it is right. There is a lot of bulls*** mixed in with the chicken*** and if you cant tell them apart then the "information" is not very useful - in fact it may be downright dangerous. Half the truth is a very big lie.

The notion of evaluating ideas by systematically testing them against the data did not take hold until the Rennaisance (AFAIK - I am sure the history buffs will set me straight on this :) ) when workers like Galileo and Newton began to apply what is now called "Scientific Method" to theories about the way the world works. The simple notion that ideas should be tested against the facts and that the ideas, not the facts, mustREJECTED or (or modified) if they fail to agree - took a long time to appear. Before that, Aristotelian Mechanics reigned unchallenged for over a 1000 years - worthless ideas that were most likely developed while sitting in the Ancient Greek equivalent of an armchair. No one ever bothered to do the experiment

When judging the "Wisdom of the Ancients" one should consider: How many people were killed or harmed by bad remedies who's use persisted despite their ineffectiveness?; how many "witches" were murdered? How many people were falsely accused of spreading plague? and so on. One could argue that the presence of some real facts mixed in with the lore only served to make it more dangerous.
   adam - Tuesday, 01/28/03 18:12:09 GMT

Phosphorus /// Ancient Iron
Phosphorus can harden iron but it can also cause iron embrittlement. Modern steel makers try to remove phosphorus in most instances though it has been used for piano strings.
Iron age iron makers seem to have deliberately preferred high phosphorus iron to higher carbon iron. This was in Southern Britain.
Dr. Ehrenreich did a metallographic survey, there in 1985, and discovered that the iron was deliberately used for swords, knives, sickles and some other tools. Even though steel made by carburising was known to many iron workers early in the iron age.
A small amount of phosphorus greatly improves the iron. E.g.cold hardening work is enhanced.
Phosphorus tends to inhibit carbon absorption in iron, so phosphorus use was a trade off.
Phosphorus containg ilmenite iron bog ore was common and used.
Also phospohorus iron was easier to keep honed than steel (less work and time-consuming.
Mr. Powers is correct.
   slag - Tuesday, 01/28/03 19:07:37 GMT

In 1973, I purchased from WHYY, a PBS station in Wilmington, a Peter Renzetti casting of a frog on a slab of wood-signed on the back by the artist-in addition there were small people climbing up a wall behind the frog-it was entitled "Leap Frog". I am anxious to establish a value on this casting, as it is for inheritance purposes. Any help would be appreciated.
   Harold Goldstein - Tuesday, 01/28/03 19:13:48 GMT

Adam posted: "One could argue that the presence of some real facts mixed in with the lore only served to make it more dangerous." Yep, sounds like business as usual in the 21st century. We just have different sets of lore now. I'll forgo my usual rant upon the concept of "Witchcraft Accusations as a Useful Tool for Social Control"

The advantage of science is that it provides a standardized framework for testing a hypothesis. It is still subject to rule fudging and GIGO. In the pre-scientific age (a nice place to visit, but you DON'T want to live there) some results were predictable even based upon the wrong theoretical framework, and a lot of things were a crap shoot. The same has been said of many of our contemporary medical procedures.

I still remember a poem contained in a book about (of all thing) outhouses called "A Sittin' and A Thinkin'":

“We think our fathers fools, so wise we grow;
Our wiser sons, no doubt, will think us so.”

Given our propensities it's amazing we have gotten to a point where we seem to know what we're doing most of the time. As the Guru has pointed out, we still do not have a framework for predictability in alloys.

Meanwhile, in celebration of that monument of 19th century art and technology (and for all of you Statue of Liberty fans: http://www.nps.gov/stli/prod02.htm
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 01/28/03 20:28:02 GMT

Peter Renzetti: Harold, Peter is alive and well in Virginia and still working. He ocassionaly posts here.
Given the rate of inflation I would say it is worth a minimum of 6 times what you paid for it and possibly ten times since he was bound to have sold it for starving artist prices back then.

Sounds like a nice piece. Pete if you read this give the man an up to date price.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/28/03 21:48:10 GMT

"wisdom" is a little higher word than I used, I believe I said commonsense.

However, we are finding more and more usefull, "inovative" thinking by looking back at SOME of the pracitces of our ancesters. I don't go to the extreme of trying to re-adopt all of them, but I won't go to the opposite extreme and dismiss all of them either. If I did, I'd have to stop taking Asprin (derived first from willowbark tea, an old *effective* madicinal cure for pain).

After all, modent medical science has discovered the benificial uses of leaches in heart attack and stroke victoms.

"There's an exception to every rule except this one." - Sallye
   - Monica Westrom - Tuesday, 01/28/03 22:56:59 GMT

Don't shudder at the thought of leaches, folks. They both lower blood pressure and by releasing blood thinners, decrease the risks of clotting.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 01/28/03 23:24:47 GMT

Phosphorus in iron. I was informed by one of my freinds who is an anglo-saxon scholar that apparently the patterns seen in anglosaxon seaxs and swords was due to phosphorus in the welds, and that the welds were the hard resistant part of the blade. His pet theory was that bone was used as the source of phospherus??? This was after I had expressed the desire to carburize some wrought iron and weld up more refined 'steel' with less refine standard wrought to develop pattern. Oh well:-) If you live long enough hopefully you learn. On the same day I learned that in patternwelded swords that were made in the brittish isles had there fullers forged in, and that those made on the continent of europe often had there fullers ground in. This was determined be close examination of how the patterns are developed. The ground fullers have sharper more crisply developed patterns, and the forged in patterns show signs of distortion from being forged. :-) That little tidbit was picked up from talking with ABS Master Bladesmith Kevan Cashen. It is all very inspiring, just want to get into the shop and make some patternwelded blades...
   Fionnbharr - Tuesday, 01/28/03 23:50:14 GMT

Old Knowledge: The problem is sorting out the old wisdom from old lunacy. Knowledge that advanced by intimate daily experiance and passed down generation after generation growing in its exactness is (was) very valuable knowledge. Many processes were worked out by trial and error over generations. Not knowing WHY something worked did not reduce the fact that it DID work. But often the same person that was carrying this valuable knowledge would make up some wild story about one thing or the other with no basis in fact. Years later we get the good with the bad and no way of telling one from the other except by science (sometimes faulty) or logic (sometimes flawed).

Add bad translations from archaic languages and you have a real puzzel.

It is estimated that we have only about 10% of what the Ancient Greeks considered their BEST literature. We have even less of their science and less again of their technology. We know much less or nothing at all of other great cultures of the same period. The loses in knowledge are staggering.

   - guru - Wednesday, 01/29/03 01:23:12 GMT


Well said! My vote for the greatest tragedy to befall mankind goes to the burning of the library at Alexandria. The uncountable amount of knowledge that was lost in one senseless act of vandalism did incalculable damage to the progress of man. There is no telling where we might be today had that not happened.

I find it impossible to understand the sort of mentality that would destroy knowledge.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 01/29/03 01:45:18 GMT

...sorry 'bout the library! We didn't mean it.

Oh? The one in Alexandria, Egypt? Not the one in Alexandria, Virginia that time we put ashore?

Never mind...

And about all those books in the monastary- we can't read them; the covers were covered in gold, silver and jewels; and parchment doesn't burn worth a hoot!

(Actually, given the propensities of our species, it's amazing that we have as much as we do. I now have parchment land deeds and rag paper books from the 1600 that are perfectly readable, grocery bills from the 1890s that are crumbling to dust, and several boxes of discs from the 1980s that are totally unreadable. Someday in the future folks may look back on this period as a new dark ages, not so much because we're babaric as because a lot of our knowledge and records will evaporate into the ether. When I come across something utterly invaluable here I cut, paste, and hard copy. My kids will probably toss it all out when I'm gone.)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 01/29/03 03:21:53 GMT

The Christian Science Monitor had an article in November about the NEW Bibliotheca Alexandrina, eleven stories tall, and near the site of the old, destroyed library. http://www.slis.indiana.edu/news1/story.php?story_id=494
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 01/29/03 03:36:00 GMT

Chris: your question of 01/25/03,I think your story is story is part of a Norse saga, Sigmunds possibly.

On the nitrogen / phosphorus(?) try Tylecote, the prehistoric metalurgy of Britain (if you can still), they ware proberbly both used as well as heat treatment (simple)in antiquity (pre BC dates for those in the US). Dont forget that a historical smith (one more than about 500 yrs ago) might not ever have traveled more than 30 miles from his home and might not know techniques used by a smith 100 miles away.

PS been browsing for a couple (5-6) of years, this is the first time writing. Good site, keep going
   Nigel - Wednesday, 01/29/03 14:09:53 GMT

How do you store your cut/pasted/hardcopyed items from here?
I do the same and everytime I'm looking through these piles of paper I bless the guy who invented binding them into books. I can't imagine how they ever found anything in a library full of scrolls.
   - JimG - Wednesday, 01/29/03 15:14:33 GMT

Jim G,

A set of three ring binders from Office Depot works well. Every now and then they have a special on the binders that have the clear plastic pockets on the outside. Buy a case of 12 and get a second case for half price, or even free. I always try to keep at least a case of the 1" binders on hand.

Then alphabet dividers and a good three hole punch, and you're in business.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 01/29/03 15:21:05 GMT

Historical smithing; OTOH that smith may have travelled from England to Jerusalem most of the time by *foot*; or visited the New World from Scandanavia by way of Iceland and Greenland---ie he may have traveled much further than the "typical" modern person---it's a real paradox in medieval studies: the stick in the muds vs the Polo's, Ibn Faldlans (sp), crusaders, grand fairs, irish sold as slaves in mediterranean ports; basque fishers on the grand banks, etc.

One thing to note is that *metal* seems to have been a trade good from day 1 of the metals age with currency bars of copper, bronze and wrought iron all fairly a common find over the last several thousand years.

This field is mutating as we write with crucible steel productions being found in more and more places over the world.

   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 01/29/03 17:35:22 GMT

Hi can anyone tell me the BS rateing for EN45?
   Black-Day - Wednesday, 01/29/03 17:53:36 GMT

RE: Fecal matter for heat treating. We have made a basic assumption that because there is nitrogen in feces, that the nitrogen was available, in gasseous or ion form, to diffuse into the steel. Being uncertain as to the exact composition of the various fecal matter used, I decline to work on a Redox equation. However, if there is a bio-chemist in our group, perhaps they would favor us with an opinion as to whether heating feces, especially dried, white feces, would drive off free nitrogen. Bear in mind that modern nitriding takes place in an atmosphere very rich in nitrogen and is held for 12-100 hours at temperature to get a .010-.020" deep nitrided case. I am not certain this would be possible with a coal forge.
   - Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 01/29/03 17:59:53 GMT

QC, The coal or charcoal forge is just the source of the heat. Carburizing has been done for millenia using crucibles OR temporary containers. One method of case hardening is to pack iron or low caron steel parts in charcoal wraped in dried leather, THEN the package is encapsulated in mud/clay and alowed to dry. The entire mass is then heated to a red heat and held there for a few minutes or a few hours. It is an ancient VERY low tech method that WORKS. Maybe it would work for nitiding. Bird do (guano) is VERY high in nitrogen and was the world's primary source of nitrates for explosives until very recently and is still used on industrial scale.

The Great Library of Alexandria:

After the accidental burning of the library of Alexandria Egypt (a burning Roman ship drifted ashore and set the entire city on fire), Ceasar rebuilt the library AND restocked it by having rare manuscripts collected from the entire Roman Empire which was at it height. Much of this was at Ceasar's expense but I expect Rome paid for a lot of it. THIS is the library to which early Christian era Greek schollars traveled and obtained translations of the bible from the Hebrew. It is these Greek translations that modern versions of the bible were derived from.

It was during the purges of the Christian era that the library was finaly destroyed. In the battle over the "right" Christianity (the trilogy or ONE god) the Popes in Constantinople and Alexandria had everything they could find that was non-Christian destroyed. This included Greek and Roman statuary, temples and writings. It is the reason so many old statues have no arms, they were holding symbols of their religion. It also included anything the destroyers could not read which included just about anything they found.

When one of the Moslem invaders stormed into the Library of Alexandria demanding the writing of the "infidels" so that he could destroy them, he was told he was too late, the Christians had alrady been there. . .

Wandering Souls: I suspect that from the beginning of time there have been wanderers that spread knowledge as well as other things. Consider "Johnny Appleseed". This was a REAL person that traveled the length and breadth of the settled parts of America by walking, planting apple trees. He also carried news and largely lived off people's good will.

For millenia wanderers, itinerante trades people and merchants that carried their entire inventory on their backs was the only source of news outside of one's village or town. These folks were welcomed, pumped for information and then set on their way supplied for the next leg of their journey. Later the famous camel caravans carried goods from Chinia and India to Europe and back. The wanderers may have spent a lifetime traveling, eventualy returning home, or not. Many people never ranged but a few miles from home and it is still true today. But then there were those with wanderlust.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/29/03 19:28:36 GMT

It's been said that there are two types of people in the world. Home folk and visitors. There's a lot of truth in the idea.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 01/29/03 19:45:21 GMT

This is truly an eclectic and fascinating site!

As an aside, I received a DVD player for Xmas and now have "Braveheart" on CD. I watched the "Making Of" and Mel Gibson's commentary last night. For those interested in medieval weapons, battle techniques, etc, I would recommend watching the CD version with those "extras" on it. I certainly learned a lot from watching it. I will check on "The Patriot" next as that is another fascinating period of history, and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.

Thanks all!
   Ellen - Wednesday, 01/29/03 19:56:30 GMT

Nitriding /// Destructive distillation (airless) & Iron. I hope that six years of undergraduate, post graduate study and several years of medical research, in organic chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology, (& microbiology)would meet Mr. Q.C.'s requirements.
Qualified or not, let me ramble on for a few lines.
Grinding iron into fine particles is important, as it would help the various molecules to come into quick and thorough mixing and contact with other elements.
Stomch acidity is around 2 or 2.5 pH, in other words very high, and some chemical reactions, and perhaps, ion diffusion might happen there. Also, enzymatic (Catalytic) activity, takes place in the intestines and even the esophagus. Metallic ions are picked up by body organic molecules. For example iron for the haemaglobin that carry oxygen in red blood cells, trace amounts of zinc, copper, magnesium etc., are essential for enymes, vitamines, covitamines and protein. For example, vitamin B12 (cobalamin), has a cobalt atom at the center of it's complex ring molecule, etc.
Gut enzymes are capable of extracting and transporting trace mineral molecules. Some of them can incorporate the metal ions into biochemicals.
It's hard to know what exactly is happening, biochemically, in a system as complex as the gut (i.e. gastrointestinal tract), of a higher animal such as a goose.
Metal ions could be complexed to organic chemicals or other ions might complex with metallic ions such as iron.
In other words nitrogen just might diffuse into finely divided iron particles.
Note that this is long before the excrement (i.e. shit, a fine Anglo-Saxon word that went downhill after the Norman conquest), leaves the bird and is subjected to heat in a foundry.
Urine and faeces are loaded with nitrogen.
Let me expand a little. Proteins are vital to all plant and animal cells. Proteins are large molecules composed of strings of amine acids. (some enzymatic proteins have 100,000 amino acids in one molecule). All amino acids have at least an amino (NH2-)group. Many of them have other
organic nitrogen compounds in their formulas, too. That is a lot of nitrogen.
Amino and other nitrogen break break down to ammonia
(NH4), when heated in the absense of oxygen.Please note that I have consistanly stipulated reducting atmosphaeres, for forging etc. in my previous note.
The reason for this requirement is that ammonia will oxidise when it comes into contact with oxygen in the air, forming NO2 and eventually HNO3 (nitric acid) and HNO2 (nitrous acid), which escapes into the air to produce acid rain.
Ammonium ions, in the form of ammonia, is used for nitriding metals. (in an oxygen free atmosphaere).
It is remotely possible that a metal worker could have got some nitrogen into iron particles in a goose and could then have got more in while burning feacal metter in a forge fire, while keeping the conditions in the lower furnace oxygen free. (a tough task to be sure).
The whole scenario is a real stretch but it is possible.
We will not know unless some metallurgical chemist tries the process. I think that the process details in surviving ancient writings may be incomplete or wrong. (by unsophisticated authors or by design, to keep a trade secret).
Such problems may stymie such a scientist, in his recreation attempt.
This is my last post, on this subject.
I hope that this note has been more informative than muddy.
   slag - Wednesday, 01/29/03 19:57:08 GMT

i'm now home and can correct the previous infomation.

It is Volund (Wayland) the Smith, a semi-mystical character in Germanic / Norse tales. The tale is part of Thidrik's Saga. Assume a large allegorical content. My source says there are Arabic manuscripts of a similar technique from the Rus (Russian Norse).

The book title should be The prehistory of metallurgy in th british isles. Pub. The institute of metals (UK) R.F.Tylecote
   Nigel - Wednesday, 01/29/03 21:06:20 GMT

Hey fellas,

Looking for anyone who uses software to design projects, I've tried a couple which are next to impossible to accurately control curves and scrolls. Thanks. Brad.
   Brad - Wednesday, 01/29/03 21:13:16 GMT

Hi I'm still looking for what the best type of damascus steel to use to give me the best looking hamon.Also if there are types that will not produce a hamon.If there is anyone out there that would sell me some bar stock of the proper type that would be great.
   CHRIS MAKIN - Wednesday, 01/29/03 21:38:56 GMT

Ellen, braveheart was so full of errors I'd be surprised if their research was any good! (kilts hundreds of years before they were used, blue body paint hundreds of years after it stopped being used, the french princess was 9 years old when Billy did his tour of england opening in several locations at the same time!---I hope he wasn't having an affair with her! See any bridge at the battle of the bridge? Even the landscape shown in the opening scene is the *wrong* landscape for WW.) It was a movie about the Legend not the reality.

Thomas "historical blacksmithing has ruined many a good movie for me"---machine made chain really leaps out at me nowdays in medieval movies...
   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 01/29/03 21:55:14 GMT

I am thinking of doing some iron casting. Looking around on the web I find designs for cupolas and for crucible furnaces. Which of these would be most suitable for casting small swedges and the like? What do I need in order to get a casting that is not brittle? I am guessing that a cupola will only make cast iron that is saturated with carbon. What happens if I melt scrap mild steel in a crucible?
   adam - Wednesday, 01/29/03 22:08:56 GMT

Hamon. Chris Makin, I think I'm correct in saying that you can get a hamon on a high carbon steel blade. It doesn't necessarily need to be "damascus". The Japanese use a fine clay, kind of dark buff colored, called "honyema". It is put up commercially in plastic bags, each weighing about 2 pounds. Mixing the clay with water, a thin slip on the cutting edge area is applied first. Then, a thicker coating applied to the rest of the blade. The idea is to get a martensitic structure at and behind the cutting edge and to leave the back somewhat more flexible...with one quench. The hamon is the subtle line showing the differing microstructures.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 01/29/03 22:20:47 GMT

Hollywood: As Thomas noted, they are not big on accuarcy. However, THEY DO purchase lots of stuff made by folks in our group!

Conan the Barbarian is a good example. Great flick, lots of fun. . . But they start by CASTING a sword (a bronze age technique) then move on to a fellow forging a blade in a flamable liquid on an anvil that is a rough flame cut steel slab and you can SEE the ugly flame cutting! Then judging the "sunrise red" against a sunrise the sword is quenched in a soft snow bank. . .(won't work). At least once a year I get some wannabe that describes this opening movie scenes and then wants to know what next. .

Excalibur is another (not so great flick, but good display of crafts). Most of the armour is obviously aluminium plate and when the actors sweat got in their chain mail the blacking came off the bright copper. BUT, these folks DID spend a ton of money at the Ren-Faires buying hand crafts ranging from jewlery and clothes to furniture and housewares.

Our friends in New Zealand report that all the weapons and armor used in Zena Warrior Princess and its spin offs was rubber painted to LOOK like metal/leather. . You don't want to hurt the actors and rubber armor flexes rather than bruse. In fact MOST movie weapons are rubber anytime they don't need to be metal. Yep, even Rambo carried a rubber knife. Can't have the star fall on his knife and die. . . The real things are kept for carefully staged closeups only.

Check the "making of" in Highlander Endgame Lots of raw sword fighting footage. The dull soft aluminium and stainless steel and medium carbon swords used in the action sequences make a dull "thwack, thwack". ALL the sound of ringing and clanging swords is Hollywood magic. In scenes where the action is too intense to change swords to the close up samples you can see the round edges full of dents. This is reality.

I love action adventure movies (and sci-fi) but it is ALL Hollywood hype and fiction. . .

And remember what I keep saying, If Hollywood can make rubber, wood and plaster look like METAL, smiths should certainly be able to paint their metal work and still have it look like metal!

   - guru - Wednesday, 01/29/03 22:35:28 GMT

Tom & Guru, the most interesting part in the "making of" on Braveheart was that facts (where known) were discussed and departures from these were discussed under making the film more marketable and easier to photograph. The blue was clearly discussed as being a druid thing, no longer used in the 13th century, but wonderful photographically. Mel discussed the lack of a bridge at Stirling, as well as filming in Ireland because of the availability of Irish army men as extras. There were a number of scenes in the "making of" which were not used in the Hollywood release. The section on using mechanical horses for the charge of heavy cavalry, and for the scene of falling into the moat, was interesting, as well as discussion of various filming speeds (frames per second) to achieve effects.
   Ellen - Wednesday, 01/29/03 22:44:47 GMT

Casting Iron Adam, CI OR steel melted in a cupola picks up carbon (the iron is surrounded by it). To melt and pour mild steel you need to use a crucible. It is still tricky getting a decent quality steel this way.

Ductile iron can be produced from cupola melted iron IN the MOLD. Pockets are made in the mold that are filled with magnesium pellets. When the magnesium reacts with the liquid iron if forces excess carbon into graphite nodules. The result is a low carbon steel with graphite pockets that make the iron look slightly porus. Yes the some of the magnesium flares off.

You can melt iron in a propane melting furnace but you need good quality crucibles and proper handling tools.

It is possible using a cupola to not use crucibles and tap directly to troughs leading to one or more molds. As one mold fills the iron overflows into the next. There are great scenes of this technique in the movie "Journey to the Center of the Earth" (I think) where they are making the "mole" machine. These scenes were filmed in a old foundry that still used the technique.

Coke fired cupolas can be built fairly small. The biggest expense is refractory materials. But even a small cupola will weigh a LOT. The C.W. Ammen books on foundry work cover everything from pattern makings to building small cupolas. I recommend you start there.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/29/03 23:09:15 GMT

Guru, thanks - just what I needed
   adam - Wednesday, 01/29/03 23:13:28 GMT


I use AutoCAD for all my engineering. It's flexible, and cheap (the LT version, at least).

I've tried others, but since there's no "standard" in CAD software, I go back to AutoCAD -- having used it since the early '80's, it's easier for me to use the command structure I already know.

If you don't have a preexisting background in a specific CAD program, perhaps others can recommend something simpler.

I still have the original 5-1/4" floppys from my ACAD V. 2.5 which ran on a 4.77 Mhz IBM AT. Boy was THAT state-of-the-art back then -- cheap, too, at twenty grand... ;-)
   Zero - Wednesday, 01/29/03 23:17:47 GMT


Did you look at iForge demo #31 "Spriral and Scroll Layout", by Jock Dempsey, 15 Dec 1999

It can produce good control of curves and scrolls and costs a lost less than most CAD software packages.
   - Conner - Wednesday, 01/29/03 23:36:25 GMT


I used to use CAD programs to design all manner of things from signs to jigs, to metalwork and cabinetry. For nice curves in a CAD program, you need two things:
1. You need a program that generates spline curves, rather than Bezier curves. I have noticed that most of the newer programs seem to have only Bezier curves, which I find to be a nightmare to work with. Some of my problem could be just being reactionary, of course.
2. You need to develop a "mental algorithm" for plotting the curve. The fewer points you use to define a curve, the smmother and more natural looking it will be. It takes practice to learn where to put the points to end up with the curve you want, but after several tries you'll develop that touch.

Having said all that, it is only fair to tell you that the last CAD program I had that I liked can no longer be used on modern computers because it was strictly DOS based. Simple, powerful, cheap and now obsoleted by current memory-hungry, processor-dependent behemoths that only a professional engineer with a minor in Computer Science could possibly understand. (scowl)

The inexpensive programs that seem to be available are difficult to use and have little or no documentation, from what I have seen. I have a hard drive full of ones that don't cut the mustard. The best system I have found is a 0.5mm lead of HB grade in a decent mechanical pencil with a new plastic eraser alongside. Smooth, fluid, cheap, low-impact and capable of producing anything from crude sketches to the Mona Lisa. You can't get that in any CAD program at any price. (grin)
   vicopper - Wednesday, 01/29/03 23:37:58 GMT


Vic, he ASKED about software... ;-)

However, I concede that the ancient art of "drafting" still has its place. I used to use a flexible french-curve (plactic thingy, with a lead core) and a compass to layout complex curves.

So, Vic... You use those newfangled Pentel style pencils, do ya? The old collet type, using a rotating sharpener/pointer isn't good enough, eh? Probably don't fill your tech-pens from an ink well either...

Some people just HAVE to have the newest gizmo's on the block (VBEG!).
   Zero - Thursday, 01/30/03 00:17:16 GMT


I told him about software...soft lead software. Grin.

Rapidograph? I don't need no stinkin' Rapidograph! You ever try to erase that stuff? Ruins a perfectly good eraser, that's what. Of course I still use collet-type lead holders. I have two of them right here with scribe points in them. Great for marking steel. You try to buy any refill sandpaper cones for your pointer lately? Me either. Grin!
   vicopper - Thursday, 01/30/03 01:11:16 GMT

Anyone who can produce the Mona Lisa with just an HB pencil gets my respect :)
   adam - Thursday, 01/30/03 01:28:08 GMT

Careful guys, I know at least one CSI member that still has his original Dietzgen Drafting set. He gave his K & E set to the guru's wife while she was in school.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 01/30/03 01:37:34 GMT

Ya got me Rich:

Nope, haven't bought cones for the pointer in eons. I use my old collet-type pencils to hold small (ruby) stones to blend/polish dies and molds.

I just had my first go with one of them El Cheapo Harbor Freight HVLP (High Velocity Low Pressure) spray guns. I have to say, I'm impressed -- my Binks and DeVilbiss siphon guns are going on the shelf!
   Zero - Thursday, 01/30/03 01:39:16 GMT

Why did I just KNOW our friend Slag would rise to occasion and provide an extensive disertation on poop? No offense, my dear Slag, I was impressed. Having only a Masters Degree in Physical Metallurgy, I am ill-prepared to debate your conclusions. You did, however, legitimize my question regarding the actual availability of free nitrogen to diffuse into the iron. I am, as you are, not entirely certain that passing iron filings through the gut of a goose is an effect alloying procedure. However, if nitrogen-rich feces is placed into a closed container with iron, will heating it release nacent nitrogen (nitrogen ions) so that they may diffuse into the iron? Molecular nitrogen probably will not as the molecule is larger than the interstitial spaces in the iron crystal lattice. So the questions are: does roasting poop give off free nitrogen and would the temperature of the forge be sufficient to break the N-N bond? AND..............does goose poop laden with iron filings rust?
   Quenchcrack - Thursday, 01/30/03 01:40:43 GMT

Ductile Iron: guru, are you sure they put the magnesium in the mold? I worked in a Ductile Iron Foundry and we put it in the ladle. When the magnesium ignited, the ENTIRE pouring bay lit up. I am not sure that putting it in the mold would not result in an explosion worthy of a historical footnote.
   Quenchcrack - Thursday, 01/30/03 01:46:30 GMT


Give me mylar (plastic), over linen (cloth) as a drafting media anytime. Either way I will keep my stack of french curves, and flex curves, and triangles, the ones that do not require batteries or a major in computer science to operate.

When in doubt, pull a piece of roll type solder across the edge of a desk and you have a nice curve to follow. Tweak as needed. Bar solder does not work as well. (VBG)
   - Conner - Thursday, 01/30/03 01:51:09 GMT


I agree, wholeheartedly. I didn't mean to impugn the art (albeit, lost art) of hand drafting. I, myself, still hold on to all the drafting tools handed down through our family, and use them on a regular basis.

CAD, simply in a business sense, makes it easier for ME to compete in a global market. It's not for everyone...

Blacksmithing, for me, is a hobby. High-speed, cold-formed metalstamping, is my business.

Plus: I like needling Vicopper (Evil Grin!)
   Zero - Thursday, 01/30/03 02:56:36 GMT

Q.C. /// Poop /// etc.
The gut of a higher animal is a very complicated ecological system. There is a lot of animal biochemistry going on. To make matters more complicated still, there are micro-organisms in the large and small intestine that live there.(e.g. bacteria some protozoa and even some fungi)
Some of these bugs supply essential chemicals to their host animal. (the beast whose gut serves as their home.). Humans rely on gut bacteria to get vitamin K. We cannot change some of our vitamin E to vitamin K.
Many bacteria can break the N-N bond to N ions. Nitrogen fixing bacteria do it, all the time at room temperature and at air pressure. (nitrogen fixation is the process where nitrogen is forced to join with other chemicals to form molecules, e.g. NH4 (ammonia etc.).
Modern human industry fixes nitrogen by the Haber process which requires a temperature of 550 C (1022 F0, and 200 atmosphaeres of pressure and the yield of ammonia is a low 8%.
Nitrogen is very reluctant to chemically join with other molecules. Some of these bacteria reside in the gut.
Ammonia gas is used in metal nitriding (in an airless compartment, where the heat breaks the ammonia down to moatomic nitrogen and it does diffuse into the metal (including iron.) I cannot explain the diffusion mechanism we need a physical chemist/metallurgist to help explain how it works.
I DID say it was a complicated question and not likely to have an answer short of doing years of research and chemical experiments. (I don't have the time these days)
   slag - Thursday, 01/30/03 03:02:11 GMT

mackyboy Your e-mail bounced.

Ball end of Ball Pien uses:

Riveting primarily (and traditionaly). The curve helps strike the sides of the head and makes a concentrated blow. Once the rivet is roughed then the hammer is flipped over and the flat face used to dress the rivet OR to
drive a header on the rivet to finish it.

Stretching sheet metal. The ball is an all axis fuller.

Texturing quite a bit. Like faux hammer texture.

Flaring tubing (used as a struck tool)

Making ball impressions as a struck tool. A series in bar is an interesting decorative effect.

AND some folks use them as their primary hammer for everything.

AND modern smiths have found that they are great for converting into other hammer shapes.

   - guru - Thursday, 01/30/03 03:18:11 GMT

The gut of the lower animals are plenty complicated too.
   Andy Martin - Thursday, 01/30/03 03:55:29 GMT

Add denitrifying bacteria to nitrogen fixing bacteria, as potential active nitrogen ion generating micro-organisms. There are several others.
The nbreakdown reactions of many enzymes can yield nitrogen ion. These complex proteins often lock the chemical, they work on, and use chemical energy (A.T.P.) to drive reactions that would never happen in nature. The chemicals are often held in very strained shapes, configurations), in order to catalyse "impossible" reactions.
Andy you are right Lower animals have chemically complicated guts.
Termites will starve to death when they are fed an antibiotic. The antibiotic does not harm them, but they starve to death. They cannot digest the main component of their diet cellulose. (from trees and wood). it turns out that there are single celled animals called protozoa that do the cellulose digestion for the termites. The antibiotic kills the protozoa and the termite goes hungry.
Life can be strange.
(who is stranger still).
   slag - Thursday, 01/30/03 04:21:48 GMT

CAD Like all tools requires some practice. The more sophisticated the CAD package the more time it takes to learn. Sadly the most common "standard" is AutoCAD. It was a lousy program when it was first released and it is still lousy. On top of everything else it handles its own "interchange" format (DFX) worse than anyone else.

The CAD package I have used for years is DesignCAD (originaly ProDesign). It has a couple features that walk all over AutoCAD. One is control of line widths and the other is curves. The most common "out of the graphics library" curve drawing method is the Bezier curve. In computer programs it uses contol points out in space to control the curve. It is a really stupid non-intuitive method but most graphics programs use it because the math is easy. . Lazy SOBs.

ProDesign and DesignCAD use a curve routine called a "cubic spline". It is controled by the termination points and point ON the line. The math is fairly sinple matrix math but THAT is not saying it is easy. All it takes is three points to define a curve. But you can have as many points as you want. Less points makes smoother curves, more points lets you "fit" curves better. It is completely intuitive and easy to use.

The cubic spline IS supported by some graphics packages but not by the most popular. That included most versions of AutoCAD. I think they have it as an option in the last couple versions but I am not sure.

A cubic spline can also be used to generate more points on its own curve. This is great for data analysis. You can define a curve with a sampling of points then fill in at regular intevals. In the end you use a series of straight lines and simple trigonometry (proportioning) to find ANY value on the curve. I have computer code I wrote in BASIC that can generate sections OR surfaces (3D graphs). Cubic splines are THE curve.

The other thing that is problematic in using CAD is that there are methods that WORK and methods that do not. CAD systems ARE NOT a mouse drawing program. Scale drawings are created by entering coordinate dimensions. It is the ONLY way to make useful drawings in CAD. The other problem is that you need to learn to use LAYERS in a constructive manner. If you build a drawing with each part in individual layers then you can break down a design assembly drawing into the individual parts for detailing.

Another thing typically done by CAD draftsmen is to use color to identify parts rather than hatching. Color is fine on the computer screen and solor printer. But the real world uses black and white or blue prints (monochromatic copies). The use of color also usualy coincides with lack of proper line widths. Much of this is a hold over from when AutoCAD did not support line widths and the system of multi-pen plotters was designed for color. . . yeah, works great until you have to make copies for the guys that are actually going to READ the drawings to make something.

The fact is CAD drawings have become known for their gracelessness and ugly conventions. But the truth IS that you can create gorgeous black and white drawings that look like old fashioned engravings or first class ink drawings using CAD. But the computer programs do not make a draftsman or artist out of you. It is much easier and faster to draw with a pencil. But CAD allows you to make an infinite number of changes and still have perfect prints.
Mylar is a WONDERFUL medium (I've used hundreds of feet of it). But once in a while you wear out the surface from making too many changes. Then neither pencil or ink will stick to it. This typicaly happens on a large assembly drawing where there is some picky design detail (gears or bearings) that get changed one time too often. . . With CAD you make the change, and print a new copy. But for THAT convienience you PAY. The last laser printer I bought to do CAD work cost over $5,000 to do 11x17" peints. First class plotters are not cheap either and you had better plan on using what ever OS you originally setup the machine on because drivers for the NEXT version of WinDirt are often not available.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/30/03 05:27:31 GMT

Magnesium and Ductile: QC many plants still use the process. In fact foundry suppliers provide a series of preformed refractory gates and inserts for the process. I suspect it is used mostly in plants that cast both grey iron and ductile. Innoculating in the bull ladle is a large shop process. I have never seen the magnesium in the mold process but I suspect that the fact that it is enclosed with little air that there is not as much flare as you would think. Its like lost foam. Light a large piece of styrofoam in your shop and it will make a heck of a mess including leaping flames and lots of black soot. But when it burns off while burried in sand you hardly notice.

Note that the magnesium is put into chambers in the gating leading to the casting NOT in the casting area. Ceramic grates are often used to keep it from washing into the mold cavity.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/30/03 05:39:47 GMT

For the poo/ nitrogen discussion: I heard of a method of surface-hardening by rubbing one side with a bull-horn to get a very thin nitrogenized layer. Appearently it was used for carpentry tools such as chisels. The soft side wears of faster, resulting in the tool keeping an edge longer. Of course other horns and wol work jus s well, but for obvious superstitious reasons bull- horns were used.
   matthijs - Thursday, 01/30/03 09:37:00 GMT

Dear Sir,

I recently purchased a home which, architecturally, lends itself to the incorporation of New Orleans French Quarter-style wrought iron railings, etc. I am excited about this potential since I was born and raised in the New Orleans area and, though I live in Texas now, I still maintain ties to my home. Where can I go to find dealers in these kind of railings? I would even consider an antique dealer who deals in these.

Thank you,
   Stewart - Thursday, 01/30/03 13:25:57 GMT

Ntech posed a question to me in a private e-mail. If you pass iron filings through the gut of a duck instead of a goose, do you get DUCtile iron? It was too good not to share. Gives new meaning to the term "rot" iron, does it not?
   - Quenchcrack - Thursday, 01/30/03 13:40:50 GMT

Where cad programs excell is in scaling and repeats---get *1* drawn correctly and then go to town---though watch out with the scaling as you may find the thickness's getting funny.

I still like to make one up and look at it to see if it "looks right" before basing an entire design on something that "looks off" when made---of course I try to stay away from production stuff so this is not a big problem for me.

I used to have to draft a drilling log out in the oilpatch and if I never have to use a leroy lettering set again it would still be several years too soon (and the ammonia based duplicators as well!)

A couple of jobs down the line I had responsibility for a set of drawings but we avoided the drafting dept as much as possible (*6* week turn around for projects that change on short notice) I learned the trick about xeroxing the drawing and then scraping the ink off the changed part and drawing in the change, *or* cadding it out, cutting the piece and taping it on the drawing and xeroxing it again---with skill it was indistinguishable from the "real" thing.

Thomas Anyone going to the SOFA meeting Saturday in Troy OH?
   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 01/30/03 14:08:14 GMT

Stewart, Most of the iron railings in New Orleans are of cast iron. There is a wrought iron balcony railing at the Cabildo, but not too much else in the French Quarter. In the historic district, one finds nice forged hardware on the large street-front shutters, and an occasional sign standard will be forged. When I was in New Orleans, the locals told me that I just HAD to see the "corn fence". Well, I did. It was cast to look like corn growing and was painted a garish green. The cobs were painted yellow. The corn fence did not ring my bell. However, some of the cast iron is nice looking and supposedly dates from 1851.

If cast iron is your thing, I would do my own search in Texas, using the Yellow Pages and my search engines on the net. Cast ornamental aluminum, painted, is another option.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 01/30/03 14:19:15 GMT

Bull Horn: Matthijs, No amount of rubbing on a horn is going to do anything to a piece of steel other than perhaps remove some rust and leave a little oil. In the abrasive process it might have left a brighter smoother surface which may appear to last longer. No ammont of rubbing on horn would have produced a work hardened surface either.

The one process used on blades that produced a hard and soft side was case hardening of low caron steel. Apparently cheep blades were made this way for the Indian trade business in the early 1800's. If you only sharpened the blade on ONE side there was always a thin hard edge. But if you sharpened both sides the case hardening was completely removed leaving a soft edge.

Finished products can have a high carbon layer of about .008" to .016" (~.2 - .4mm) applied by primitive methods without damaging the finished surface. This can produce a hard wear resistant surface and is still common on parts of firearms.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/30/03 15:25:02 GMT

French Quarter Style: Stewart, as Frank pointed out this ornate style of ironwork was cast. Generally it is no longer made. Ocassionally an art foundry will repoduce an old piece by using a sample as a pattern. There are a few pieces available in cast aluminium but not the quantity or variety that was available in the 1800's and early 1900's.

That said, Texas has MANY blacksmiths (all over the country for that matter) who would love to provide you with a forged product. Forged ironwork is much more durable than CI, the style being different due to the manufacturing processes. It is expensive to get the ornate lace screen effects used in the cast product but it can be done. Look at the samples of ironwork in our book reviews of Beds and Bedroom Accessories, Italian Masters of Wrought Iron, The Contemporary Blacksmith and Medieval Decorative Ironwork in England.

Cast decorative work is made from carved wood patterns and the same panels, posts and corner brackets are reproduced repeatedly. Panels are generaly "one sided" having the decorative features on the outside and being flat on the back. The components are bolted together to produce a finished work. The size of spaces filled are determined by the ironwork (you build around it).

Forged ironwork is all custom made one piece at a time. It can either be entirely hand made, made from catalog components or a mix. Even where there are repetitious elements there is variation in the individual pieces. Forged work is all done "in the round" both sides having sculptural features. As custom work it is made to fit existing spaces as needed.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/30/03 16:02:53 GMT

alpha guru, according to postman, mankel only made 25 blacksmith anvils, ie anvils without clip horns. centaur claims to have six of them. if i wrote postman a letter, would he be receptive ? i have not had the best of luck dealing with centaur. if the 25 anvil made statement is true today, how is it possible that centaur has 6 of them?

question 2: where is the best source(s) for out of print books. i have several that i am looking for and i am having great difficulty. the "CoSIRA" series from GB is something that i would love to get my hands on.

to "SLAG", do you work for a waste water treatment plant?? what antibiotic kills protozoa?? just curious.

adam, grant, pete F: still trying to figure out how to "tune" me forge master. will try and use tin foil to cover half of the air intake on one of the burners. any suggestions?? anxious to see this get hot enough to weld....
   - rugg - Thursday, 01/30/03 16:16:01 GMT

the best use for the tin foil is to make a hat so that those pesky aliens can not rread your mind and steal all your blacksmithing secrets....

   Ralph - Thursday, 01/30/03 16:33:21 GMT

Guru; I believe the technique that Matthijs was refering to was the rubbing of the *red* *hot* chisel with the horn---trying to do a case hardening bit on it; but it would seem to be a shallow thin case to me---perhaps the extra layer of crud acted as a barrier to oxidation during heat treat and so helped it out that way as well.

Thomas (I've got to try the "burnt feather" finnish sometime
   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 01/30/03 17:17:46 GMT

RUGG. Mankel may have made several differnt STYLES of anvils, but he has made way more than 25 anvils. I believe he currently produces 3 different styles. Two fairier style and one blacksmith style. I have seen many anvils in his shop, as I go to an open hammer-in there once a month. If you have a question on a Mankel anvil, I could always just give you his phone number.
   Bob Harasim - Thursday, 01/30/03 17:23:54 GMT

where can I find patterns on welding barbeque grills?
   jessica - Thursday, 01/30/03 17:39:17 GMT

I have to find a pattern for a class. We are going to try to make either a pig roaster or a bbq grill. Do you have any patterns or know where I can get some?
   jessica - Thursday, 01/30/03 17:44:22 GMT

Do you have any tips for someone who is about to set up a blacksmithing area, like space needs, forge location, power vent or not?
   Jeff G. - Thursday, 01/30/03 18:22:58 GMT

If you wanted to twist hollow square or circle stock how would ou go about preventing the collapse of the stock in to itself
   Grant - Thursday, 01/30/03 18:30:31 GMT

Took vocational drafting in high school. Still use it sometimes. Still have all the curves, triangles, compasses, etc. Drawing all that stuff for practice sure taught me a lot about threads and gears and how things go together. Most direct use of drafting skills I guess is in being able to draw visual aids freehand as needed in discussions. For CAD packages, I like Autosketch myself. Partly cause I can afford it for home use. Use it a lot to make accurate sketches to scale to measure where to put holes or put pulleys or whatever...

Got a big charge out of reading an old mechanism design book I found at a flea market. How to figure out dimensions for all these mechanisms? Draw things out and measure! How cool! The modern engineer toolbox is so given over to calculating and simulating that they think I'm nuts to do it this way... I think it's best to collect as many tools as possible so I can pick the best one to do the job.

   Steve A - Thursday, 01/30/03 18:46:52 GMT

Books and Anvils: Rugg, Richard answers mail and the phone. 269-471-5426

How could Centaur have 6 out of 25? Easy, they have been the biggest dealer of blacksmithing tools in the US for a long time. Not sure why they would be holding them unless Bill Pieh was "collecting" them or asking collector's prices.

I have the best luck finding out of print books on Bookfinder.com. I used to use bibliofind until Amazon bought them and ruined it. . Big IT corps have a bad habbit of buying out what they think is a "good thing" then wrecking it. Like Yahoo did with Webring.org

Many of the CoSIRA titles are available from ArtisanIdeas.com. Some are no longer under the CoSIRA name but are the same books. Some are published now by "The Countryside Agency" and the "Rural Development Commission". I have several to review.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/30/03 20:35:19 GMT

Twisting Hollow Square Do it with a loose fitting filler bar. In the twisting process the sides curve inward and need room to move. So snug fitting filler will end up bound up inside the tube so you can't get it out.
Why twist round tube?
   - guru - Thursday, 01/30/03 20:38:30 GMT

Guru or Paw Paw--I looked at iForge #148 and was interested in the ITC 100. After you thin it down with water as you suggested can you save the thinned mixture to reuse at a later date or is it a one-shot type thing?
   John M. - Thursday, 01/30/03 20:57:38 GMT

I Saw a sword on the internet I liked and it was too expensive to buy so how would I make one and if I could how would I do It. it was made of 420 J2 Stainless steel, false edged and where would I be able to buy steel like that? what tools would I need? Also how much would the whole project cost estimated?
   Josh Gries - Thursday, 01/30/03 21:33:58 GMT

Shop Space needs There is no "right" answer to this question. Smiths have worked in spaces no bigger than a five foot circle for millenia and many still do. But in the modern world you never have enough space.

A lot depends on what you are making. Crafts people that make small items in low quantity can work in very small spaces (those five foot circles). If you are doing architectural work you may need room to assemble fences, gates and rails. Railings for stairways can be particularly difficult to mock up as they can require a TALL space.

If you are doing heavy work with a power hammer you may need extra overhead height for lifting machinery, for crane overhead and fixed jibs over work stations. I 16 feet overhead in my forging bay. I lose a foot to the monorail, another foot to the trolley, and two more feet to the chain hoist. That puts the hook at 12 feet. Sounds high until you pull in a truck with the bead at five feet. That leaves seven. Stand a 100# little giant upright on the truck and you might not have room to lift it and certainly no room for rigging. IF I have something HEAVY to move I have two, 2 ton hoists and a strong back (a special beam) to put between them. Then I can lift 8,000 pounds but I have lost another two feet of height (now down to 10 feet). My next shop will have over 20 feet under the crane beam if I can afford it.

A simple porch rail is 40" tall. Have it climb a typical 4 foot porch and the total is 88" (over seven feet). If you try to mock it up indoors and work on the top rail you be beating your head against an 8 foot ceiling. IF the porch is five to siz feet then you can't mock it up in a "standard" height space.

At a minimum you have to consider hammer swing height. Eight foot cielings are the minimum.

Steel comes in 20-21 foot lengths. When you get it to your shop you will probably want to store it on a stock rack uncut. That is 20+ feet. Idealy your saw or cutoff device is at the end of the rack (add about 4 feet). In order to cut stock in half you need 10 feet (minimum) beyond the saw. Now you are up to 34 feet with no room to get around either end. So fourty feet is needed if you are going to be going through a lot of stock. Many folks also like to be able to pick up a 20' bar and turn around with it in their shop. This means the shop needs to be at LEAST 24' wide.

So now you have a 24 x 40 foot (7300 x 12200 cm) shop with a story and a half or two of headroom, and machinery has not been taken into consideration. However, if you alow a 24 diameter circle in the middle of that rectangle for turning work then there is a lot of end space for machinery. You can reduce this considerably if you assume ALL bar stock is going to be precut before taking it into the shop OR that the stock rack is outdoors. In many arid climates the racks are outdoors and the little rust is ignored.

Any shop where welding is going on should have large ceiling or gable mount ventilation fans. ALL coal forges lose some smoke to the shop air and it likes to hang a head level. If you are sensitive to this or worry about the coal smoke then you will need tall ceilings AND that power fan. Gas forges are less of a problem but SHOULD be vented. If you have good shop ventilation then you can get away with no hood or vent on a gas forge. However, in the winter you need to vent that gas forge so that it will not cause a build up of carbon monoxide.

Back to minimums. IF all you are doing is forging you need a forge, an anvil and a vise. These form a triangle that you work in. For small work these are situated so that you never have to take a step to get form one to the other. A simple rotation should get you from forge to vise, forge to anvil, anvil to vise. This makes that five foot circle we started with. Add to that space for the forge, coal and hand tools and you need about an eight by eight by eight foot (2440 x 2440 x 2440 cm) room. You can even put a small power hammer in that space. Need a helper? Going to have visitors? Tripple that minimum area.

The best answer is you will always need more shop space than you can afford so go as big as you can. A 60 x 100 foot building is surprisingly easy to fill up.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/30/03 21:48:47 GMT

ITC-100 John, Most of the ITC-100 I have thinned has been used up almost immediately. However, I have thinned ITC-213 to repackage as samples and after sitting a couple weeks it just needs to be shaken a little. I suspect that after months it would need remixing.

The thinned ITC products do not have a reduced shelf life. But they WILL settle a little since they are made of solids (like clay). As delivered all the ITC products are a dense paste. Once diluted they are a thick solution (a little thinner than clay slip, heavier than latex paint).

ITC products do not "cure" on drying like paint or "set" like plaster or concrete. As long as they do not dry to the point of being bone dry you should be able to reconstitute with a little water. Curing occurs when the dry product is fired. It becomes non-soluable when cured at 300-500°F but continues to cure well into the red heat range.

Your mail arrived today and I will have you setup shortly. Thanks!
   - guru - Thursday, 01/30/03 22:11:46 GMT

bob harasim, from what i have learned, mankel only made 25 of the blacksmith "style", that is without the cliphorn. if you see him every so often, ask him how many he made. i like the proportions. this "distributor" that i have spoke of is really trying to go out of business. that is the only way to explain their very poor business practices and customer interaction. lack of common sense and stupidity also will speed up their demise. so it is entriely possible that they DO NOT have any of the "non-farrier" anvils. i have received more than my share of inaccurate information from them to trust anything they say. i do like that anvil. if you get a contact number and he wouldnt mind speaking to me, i would appreciate it...

GURU, thanks for the reply and advice.

   - rugg - Thursday, 01/30/03 22:19:45 GMT

ralph, amusing comment re tin foil. wish i had secrets. i come here to pry them away from the more fortunate, skilled, experienced, ect...
   - rugg - Thursday, 01/30/03 22:58:33 GMT

"1045 titanium vanadium steel blades"


Okay; there's a ____ born every minute; a _____ and his money are soon parted; you can _____ some of the people all of the time...

So is this guy just popping in magic words like "titanium" and "vanadium"?

Noted from the Armour Archive.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 01/30/03 23:05:08 GMT

Mankel: Call Ken at 616-874-6955.
   Bob Harasim - Thursday, 01/30/03 23:09:04 GMT

One born every minute. . Yep. And "living steel" has a soul. . .

   - guru - Thursday, 01/30/03 23:09:55 GMT

Sword Making: Josh, to purchase all the equipment to do the job right will cost a LOT more than whatever the sword was selling for. Probably ten times as much. The difficult part is heat treating the stainless. Then there is the matter of time. IF you do not know what tools are required that means that the education process is going to take a LONG time.

There are two schools of blade making. Forging and stock removal. Both require shop space with good light and ventilation.

Stock removal is simply starting with a bar of steel as close to size as possible and then sawing, grinding and filing to shape. Roughly one half of the bar you start with will be reduced to dust. Much more if the blank is thicker than it needs to be. Most people in the stock removal business use large heavy duty belt grinders (sanders). For blade work there are some specialized designs of belt grinder. Prices for one heavy enough for sword work (3HP) range from $1,000 US to $5,000. I recommend a water cooled grinder. Most stock removal guys also have numerous other smaller belt grinders for detail work and sharpening. You will also need buffing equipment. Stainless is one of the few metals that you cannot "get by" buffing by hand. Figure about $200 minimum. Add another $250 for belts, disks and buffing compound (abrasives are not cheap). Most stock removal folks also have a metalworking bandsaw ($1000 used, $5000 new) but for a one off project you can do it by hand.

After the blade is shaped 99% to 100% it is heat treated. The equipment to do a cutlery stainless blade will start at about $5,000 US. Plan on paying a heat treater rather than doing it yourself. After heat treating the surface will probably need to be refinished. The buffing is done after. That false hammon line is made with a wire wheel either on a stationary bench grinder or a hand held grinder. Add another $200 for grinder and stainless wire wheel.

Forging requires a forge (min $500), anvil ($400 to $1500) and skill forging (add another $500 for classes if you don't want to spend years teaching yourself). After forging you will need to grind the blade to finish. A skilled smith can save a blade maker several LONG days of grinding in a few minutes of forging. But even after the most skilled smith forges the blade there is still going to be some grinding to do. The difference is that you can get away with a little 1/2 to 1 HP belt grinder. Smiths can also produce a distal taper in no time compared to stock removal. Assume about $500 for the belt grinder and another $500 for a bench grinder and abrasives as above. And again, plan on paying a heat treater to harden the stainless.

The folks that make the classy laminated or "Damascus" blades do both the forging AND the stock removal. The billet is produced by forging processes but much of the pattern development depends on heavy stock removal. The shops that do this work usualy do their own heat treating. So they have all the expense of the forge and well as stock removal.

Fitting the furniture requires the same tools in either process. Guards and pommels are made by a variety of metal working processes. The simplest is to carve the pieces from bar stock using saw and belt grinder. But many folks cast parts and others machine them. This is a decision you will have to make. Just how far do you want to go? At a minimum most modern custom blades have the guard silver soldered on. Add $500 for a small oxy-acetylene set and lessons on how to use it. This is one place I recommend EVERYONE go to school on.

On the other hand, many folks build their own forge, scrounge an anvil, build their own buffers and grinders and do the entire job on a shoestring budget.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/30/03 23:17:39 GMT

John, I have reused old ITC100 that had been mixed up months before - I have even reconstituted some that had dried into a brick with no apparent ill effects.

Josh: The reason swords are expensive is that they take a lot of highly skilled craftsmanship. Among blacksmiths, swordmaking is considered to be a highly skilled specialty and many good blacksmiths wouldnt even attempt this project
   adam - Thursday, 01/30/03 23:19:04 GMT


Don't slip in that brown stuff on the floor of his sales room.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 01/31/03 00:12:10 GMT

More bull for the gullible. .

"Hghly Carbonated Curb Steel" Is "curb steel" like "carryiron", found on the street?

"1045 Highly Carbonated Vanadium Steel"

"1045 Highly Carbonated Steel" The bubbles tickle my nose!

"CK 55 Spring Steel" Never head of that one but propritary numbers can be anything.

"Combat ready" (NO COMMENT)

Sadly there are plenty of honest technical terms to "dazzel them with science" as Bruce Wallace says. . without making up terms or lying about the alloy.

For those that don't know, 1045 is the SAE designation for a plain carbon (no other metal alloys other than manganese and silicon) steel. The 45 represents the decimal percentage (.45%) of carbon in the steel. 1045 is a medium carbon steel. There is no such thing as 1045 vanadium steel and 1045 titanium vanadium steel is not even a viable alloy.

Chrome Vanadium cutlery steels are some of the best stainless types. But 1045-whatever IS NOT one of these steels.

As soon as steel becomes an alloy grade the first numbers change in the SAE system and in all others that have adopted the SAE alloys.

"Carbonated" is what is done to make the bubbles in soft drinks. CO2 disolved in water (producing weak carbonic acid) is soda water. CO2 injected into cold water disolves and stays there under pressure. In "naturaly" carbonated drinks the CO2 comes from the yeast making alcohol. When partialy fermented drink is capped off the CO2 is absorbed by the water under pressure from the CO2. It is released when uncapped making those tickly bubbles. . .
   - guru - Friday, 01/31/03 00:15:34 GMT

Sword Making
I've been wanting to post/as this for awhile. I don't remember the title or anything else about it. I remember reading a story in grade school and all I can remember about it is a young prince in an impoverished kingdom was learning about forging and was bothering his instuctor to teach him to how to make a sword, and his teacher sighed and said " they all want to make a sword".....
   - JimG - Friday, 01/31/03 00:34:54 GMT

Story. . Jim I would REALLY like to find that one. .

Viruses, Hoaxes and Porn: The jdbgmgr.exe hoax is going around. You will likely get a mail from a FRIEND claiming that got this virus and were told to delete jdbgmgr.exe. AND that you probably have it too. . . Well, everyone running win98 up has it. It is a legitimate system file. DO NOT delete it. If you have then dig out your Windirt disks and do a reinstall. . .

I got a hoax warning today that was not very well written THEN I got a hoax mail from someone that I KNOW has had the same hoax letter in the past. . .

NEVER, EVER take someone's advice about cleaning up virus files. Always check with the anti-virus sites FIRST. Check under hoaxes first.

Although it has slowed down we had a spat of OLD viruses in January. I suspect it was from all the folks that got brand new PC's for Christmas. As soon as they went on-line with OutHouse express they got infected AND spread the viruses more. That is what Microsoft Mail products were designed to do. Bill Gates calls spreading viruses a "feature".

Klez with its forged return addresses is still a problem. Every once in a while I get a complaint from someone about virus mail in my name. . . And many brain dead anti-virus systems on mail servers still send out warnings that say "You have a Virus, Klez was detected". . . If they knew Klex was detected then they should know the return address IS NOT the source and their mail is a false warning and a form of SPAM.

Recently we started getting bounce mail from AOL in a client's name. The mail was PORN SPAM. It did not originate with the client OR the client's mail server. This is an NEW all time LOW for the porn industry and spammers. It is also a VERY good reason to get some anti-spam laws with TEETH on the books. Internet crime is getting worse and a LOT of it involves SPAM and SPAMMERS.

And from what I have seen of late, fraud is rampant on eBay. Mostly it is small time stuff like the guy selling soft cast iron anvils with "great rebound" and the guy describing his swords as made from materials that don't exist. But I am sure that where there are lots of little scammers that there are big ones.

Yeah. . blah blah blah. . But if you are reading this then YOU are effected by all these things.
   - guru - Friday, 01/31/03 01:29:02 GMT

1045 titanium vanadium steel: Yep, it made absolutely no sense to me, but being the cautious sort that I am, I thought I'd double check with y'all before posting on another forum.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 01/31/03 02:51:25 GMT

So would I guru. As far as I can recall it was in an text book probaly before grade six. And was a short story not a novel, but it may have been part of a novel. The prince decides he was going to make a sword anyway and starts on it but the teacher (who was a master blademaker in his day) says no no not like that and finaly breaks down and shows him. I don't remember much else of the story. Please if this jogs anyones memory?
   - JimG - Friday, 01/31/03 03:02:08 GMT

Antiprotozoa Antibiotics /// Rugg did ask for some.
The most common anti-protozoal antibiotic is Flagyl (generic name metronidazole). It also kills an impressive list of bacteria too.
also suramin, and at least 27 others. (supplying an annotated list woust eat up the Guru's bandwidth and I think it's not appropriate for this site. We hammer iron and steel RIGHT?
The question is a good one and merited an answer.
I don't
work in water treatment.
I'm ,currently, a patent attorney and registered agent (Cda. & U.S.) and in the bar of Ontario and New York State (and Joe's Grill, "honorous causa".)
My specialty is biotechnology law & licencing,(and also organic, pharmaceutical, and biochemistry and micro-biology). I've got extensive other training, and learning, in a great many different fields.
I am currently iron banging at the "sub tyro" level but with great enthusiasm. So most of you can show/teach me a lot.
   slag - Friday, 01/31/03 05:24:29 GMT


CK 55 Spring Steel is a european spring steel.
it should be DIN Ck 55. normally used for the hilts and
tangs of european reproduction swords.

reproduction sword blades are normally DIN 54 SiCr 6

many european reproduction swords are made by
Arms & Armor Manufacture in the Czech Republic.

concerning the 1045 titanium vanadium steel blades
they are probably microalloy steel.


nothing that special. clearly not worth the hype the seller
is using on ebay.

terry l. ridder ><>
   terry l. ridder - Friday, 01/31/03 06:49:16 GMT

I don't know. I went and looked at Mercer Forge's website and I was not impressed. They used a lot of acronyms that baffle me, but then I'm not a metalurgist nor an industrial forging expert. Nut I didn't see any actual chemistry for their "microalloy" steel. In fact, the only thing I could determine was that they do forgings, they don't use quality control inspectors but rather rely on the operators to check their own work, and their primary "microalloy" is 1141 steel with vanadium. The other alloys, they say, have been done only experimentally.

I don't dispute that microalloying is a reality. Timken bearing Company uses microalloys. But I do doubt that pseudo-sword trash monger is selling anything worthwhile.
   vicopper - Friday, 01/31/03 08:48:42 GMT

Mostly they're using big words to impress the yokels.

I recently ran into a situation that will really fry your socks off.

Local re-enactors have been paying $120 USD for reproduction US Cavalry sabres. I thought I should be able to beat the price, so I started doing a little digging.

I'm now selling them the same sabre for $60 USD apiece. Half what they were paying in the past. Know what I'm paying for them?

$20 USD apiece! The poor basta** in India that is making them WITH SCABBARD is lucky if he's getting $5.00 USD apiece for them, more likely $2.00 USD.

Same thing as we're seeing on eBay. Hype it up with big words that don't mean crap and sell it for all the traffic will bear.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 01/31/03 10:08:40 GMT

Alas; when it comes to such things as swords it's the image and romance, not the reality. Very high sizzle to steak ratio!
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 01/31/03 13:11:49 GMT

Micro-alloyed Steels: I go with the notion that 1045 Ti-V is a bogus alloy. Micro-alloyed steels, those made with titanium (.02%), Niobium (.03%) and Vanadium (.10%) are almost always very low in carbon (<.10%). The object of the micro-alloys is to maintain a very fine grain structure, and to precipitate as nitrides in FERRITE. Micro-alloyed steels are not heat treated but gain strength from nitrides acting as "re-bar" does in concrete. These steels are produced under carefully controlled thermo-mechanical processing to develop their strength right off the rolling mill. Ti and Nb make almost no contribution to hardenability and to add them to a .45% C manganese steel is a waste of alloy. This ranks right up there with those cheap stainless knives being sold years ago as "molecular stainless steel". Metals do NOT form molecules, they form crystals with metallic bonds. P.T. was right...........
   - Quenchcrack - Friday, 01/31/03 13:24:55 GMT

Micro Alloys

Timken does indeed make and use micro alloyed steels. You will not find micro alloys in the standard bearings, but it is being employed for atomitive bearing hubs and assemblies. Generally speeking, a low carbon micro alloy would not be a good choice for a cutting tool. Once you are into the medium carbon range, it would work, but probably not any better than a plain carbon grade. Micro alloyed steels have a very small addition of the alloying elements. In the atomitive industry, these types of steels have been used to help make cars lighter and more fuel efficient OR too aid in the manufacturing process. Once grade is used for body panels. It has been alloyed to respond to heat treatments in the 300-400 F range, which cooresponds to the paint curing temp used. Thise means that you get a more dent resistant body panel and have combined the heat treat of the steel with the curing of the paint into one step, hence a cost savings to the auto company. Micro allyed steels are very useful and have many adavantages over plain carbon steel, but they will not take the place of all the steel grades now in use. Also, I don't think that you would be able to tell the difference between a micro alloy 1040 and a regular 1040 if you got a bar of each and tried to forge it. It think they are about the same in this regard.
   Patrick Nowak - Friday, 01/31/03 13:31:58 GMT

Story; ISTR a series of stories about "Taran" (sp?) who had to learn a bunch of crafts---hmm Alexander, Lloyd---"Taran Wnaderer" (abebooks.com comes through again) Check it out at the library but this may have been the source---been a while since my kids were that small, my oldest takes her driver's exam today and reads for fun the same stuff I do...

   - Thomas Powers - Friday, 01/31/03 14:30:42 GMT

Swords; what I usually tell folks who want to make a sword: it will be faster and cheaper to mow lawns and *buy* one! You can make them for very little money but you spend *time* and a whole lot of it.

To learn the craft you start out with knives and then have to learn and unlearn to move on to swords as they have a totally different design criteria to them---distal taper, blade harmonics, weight, weight, weight, flexibility, temper, edge geometies---all differ from knives but the grinding and basics of heat treat and forging are the same.

Hrisoulas' books "The Complete Bladesmithsmith", "The Master Bladesmith" and "The Pattern Welded Blade" contain info on sword making as well as knifemaking.

   - Thomas Powers - Friday, 01/31/03 14:35:14 GMT

ive just bought a forgemaster 5000 blacksmith model forge and its a 2 burner design but only one burner is firing,alternatley.arent the 2 burner forges supposed to use both burners? all the time? the manual hasnt been any help,thank the lord for this web site!,i tried freeing any gunk that may have been clogging the burner,then the other burner was firing??? so i know that they both do work but just not simutainaisly,any info would be greatly appreciated.I am a 30 yo paraplegic giving blacksmithing a try.I love it! thank you for your time,god bless. Ron Holmberg
   ron holmberg - Friday, 01/31/03 14:38:57 GMT

Alti? In your first demo on spears what size stock do you use to start with? 1/2x?
   - JimG - Friday, 01/31/03 18:45:05 GMT

To Frank Turley
I probably didn't make my question clear.I already can get a great hamon on 1095c at will.My concern was that the other additives in some damascus(chromium,nickel etc.) might inhibit the formation of a hamon.
thanks for answering
   CHRIS MAKIN - Friday, 01/31/03 19:13:18 GMT

Sword Making
Josh,I started two years ago forging japanese style tantos
or short swords.I am just now getting good enough to bang one out in an hour or so.Then there is another 3hours of finishing.Thats for an overall length of 13",the prospect of forging a full length katana still kinda frightens me.But you gotta love the craft.
   Chris Makin - Friday, 01/31/03 19:31:34 GMT


Yes, 1/2" is a good place to start for a medium size spearhead suitable for thrusting ot throwing.

Let me know how it turns out. It took me several tries before the started coming out right; your reality may vary.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 01/31/03 19:32:50 GMT

Proof, then post.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 01/31/03 19:34:12 GMT

What Atli means is that "yes, 1/2" SQUARE stock is fine for small light spear points. And the ones that he demonstrated makeing are on the small "economical" side of things. Iron was realitively expensive, and it took a fair amount of time and energy to make the iron bloom, not to mention the time in the fire slaping out spear points. So many of the anglo-saxon spear points like what Atli demonstrated were made quickly and not finished excessively. This can especially be seen in the sockets, and they were very thin in cross section throughout. This was simple economics. You use the least amount of material neccessary to get a good functional spear point, and you corresspondingly use less charcoal and fewer heats to get the desired results. I imagine that most blacksmiths of the time learned very early on to work hard and fast (like many of the modern farriers:-), It was partly a limitation of the material, because wrought iron is cold short, so you can't keep hitting after it looses color, cause it will break. And the more heats you have to use to make an item the more it costs you in charcoal, which you have to buy or make, and either way it make the finished item more expensive. Good stuff would be labored over for huge amounts of time, but much of what a blacksmith did in period was fast comercial quality stuff to turn a proffit. Times and taste modify that of course... There is some really wonderful metal work from the medieval period, but like today there was a lot of stuff that wasn't so great:-)

I generally use slightly larger flat stock like atleast 3/8" x 1" so that I can skip the faggot weld and it still get a decent sized socket. And it still takes me an hour and a half to make two socketed spear points. But I am also working production style in a gas forge:-)
   Fionnbharr - Friday, 01/31/03 20:12:30 GMT

Chris Makin, I plead ignorance. Guess you'll hafta' try it.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 01/31/03 20:34:58 GMT

Hamon in Damasucs

Chris, I would think that first off, the pattern of the damasucs would obscure the hammon, if the damasucs is etched. If you have a very high layer count=very fine pattern, you will probably be able to see it. The other possibility is that you may get it but it will be very faint. This might be enhanced by careful etching. Actually, if you are able to make the edge from high carbon stock and the back from low carbon, you will get a difinite delineation between the two materials when etched. I see this effect regularly at work when etching case hardened bearings. You may want to try using 2 low alloy steels for the damascus, like 1095 and 1018. If you use equal parts 1095 and 1018 and make a high layer count billet, you wille end up with essentialy a medium carbons billet with a high layer count. I think (although I am not sure) that this would be fairly similar to the end product used by the japenese for thier blades. Good luck.
   Patrick Nowak - Friday, 01/31/03 21:27:57 GMT

Ron Holmberg,

What pressure is your regulator set for? From what little I know of Forgemaster forges, they're atmospheric forges, and will require around 7-10 psi to work well. Since the two burners are manifolded together, if your pressure is tto low, one or the othre won't have enough pressure to create an adequate pressure differential in the venturi, and won't draw air. The other burner will be creating back pressure for that burner, so it will have another hurdle to cross. I'm not surprised that which burner is working is arbitrary, I've seen lots of manifold burners work that way when things were out of whack.

Another thing to check is your gas hose. Be sure it is rated for propane. A hose rated for only acetylene will deteriorate more rapidly with propane and will start to shed little bits of disintegrating rubber lining. Those little pieces of crud can clog a burner jet. Hose for propane is rated "T" if I'm not mistaken.

I would be very interested to hear what adjustments you have made or had to make, to do smithing as a paraplegic. It has been a thought in my head to try to put together a tutorial for blacksmithing paraplegics, since I think it would be well received and also useful to those of us who will probably lose much of the use of our legs before too many years pass. I would appreciate it if you would thake the time to write me a bit about your own discoveries. If you click on my name, it will bring up an encoded email window. Thanks, and good luck with the forge.
   vicopper - Friday, 01/31/03 21:49:23 GMT

Ron Holmberg,

I neglected to mention that Forgemaster forges are sold by Kayne and Son, one of Anvilfire's advertisers. If you check the advertiser's index and call Steve Kayne, he will undoubtedly give you any help and advice he can. The Kaynes are great folks.
   vicopper - Friday, 01/31/03 21:51:35 GMT

[ CSI - anvilfire MEMBERS Group | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]
Counter    Copyright © 2003 Jock Dempsey, www.anvilfire.com Cummulative_Arc GSC